Pro-Choice, Progressive Jewish Groups Weigh In On Kagan

I just got off the phone with Nancy Ratzen, president of the National Council of Jewish Women, who said the group would be issuing an endorsement of Elana Kagan later today. Ratzen, who said the NCJW has, since 2001, “engaged consistently on reviewing and taking positions and educating and mobilizing progressive Jewish community” on judicial nominations, said that the group would be working hard to see Kagan confirmed. “We think she has an exceptionally brilliant legal career and record and she’s demonstrated a great understanding of the impact of law on lives, and a real commitment to civil rights,” Ratzen said.

As to Kagan’s record on reproductive rights, and the pro-choice community’s so far lukewarm reaction to her, Ratzen said, “President Obama made a real clear promise and commitment that he was looking for a nominee that supported the right ofprivacy, specifically reproductive rights, and this nominee is consistent with that commitment of his and her statements when she was before the Senate on the Solicitor General confirmation. So we feel comfortable about her commitment to reproductive rights, to Roe v. Wade, and to stare decisis, and we feel confident about President Obama’s commitment to find a justice that would protect those rights.” (Adding to the pro-choice community’s tepid reception of Kagan, Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, issued a statement this afternoon that was silent on reproductive rights but merely noted, “We are confident that Kagan will bring the dedication and commitment that have marked her career with her to the highest court in the land.”) Ratzen, who also serves on the Advisory Council to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said she had never spoken directly to Kagan about these issues.

David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released a statement praising Kagan this afternoon, but it also stopped short of an endorsement: “We will scrutinize her statements and writings to get a sense of her judicial philosophy and temperament and determine whether she will uphold the fundamental values that our Movement supports.”

In the statement, Saperstein called Kagan “a trailblazer with a stellar reputation,” and urged swift Senate action on the nomination. In addition, he noted that the RAC had worked with Kagan “on an array of religious freedom, civil rights, and women’s rights issues” when she served in the Clinton administration and “found in her someone passionate in her commitment to constitutional rights and wise in her strategic judgment.”

UPDATE: Here is the NCJW endorsement statement.

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email