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Confirming Jewish Acceptance

by Dr. Michael Berenbaum

May 10, 2010 | 1:10 pm

The nomination of Elena Kagan as an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court is but one further undeniable example of the acceptance of Jewish in the United States.

Recall that for generations there was a “Jewish seat,” held by such distinguished Justices as Benjamin Cardozo, Felix Frankfurter, Arthur J. Goldberg, Abe Fortas and the “seat” was empty between 1968 and 1993—though it was also filled by Reagan nominee Douglas Ginzburg in 1987, who was forced to drop out after drug use became public—until President Clinton nominated Ruther Bader Ginsburg. The subsequent nomination of Justice Stephen Breyer ended the concept of a “Jewish seat” and Elena Kagan’s nomination by President Obama demonstrated the degree to which Jews are accepted as part of the mainstream. If confirmed, there will be 6 Roman Catholics and 3 Jews on the Nation’s highest court—and no Protestants—a circumstance inconceivable even a generation ago.

Kagan will be questioned on many things, but not her religion. Another Judge on Obama’s short list was also Jewish.

And for those on the Jewish right and in Israel who want to characterize the President as an anti-Semite, we should recall that anti-Semites don’t nominate Jews to carry on their legacy, they don’t appoint them chief of staff and they don’t have them as their chief political advisers and in important positions throughout the Cabinet and the White House.

We have many things to worry about as a Jewish community. Thankfully, this is not one of them.

Since I wrote this entry Patrick Buchanan has raised the issue of three Jews being on the Supreme Court, Hardly a surprise, Buchanan’s affection for the Jewish people is well known., But he is alone at the extreme of the mainstream media. Kagan’s Ivy League Education has been an issue. If confirmed, all Justices will be graduates of Harvard or Yale. Gone are the days when Stanford graduates Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor were on the Court and four of the justices are from New York—Scalia from Queens, Ginsburg from Brooklyn, Sotomayor from the Bronx and Kagan from the West Side of Manhattan.

So hearing from Buchanan does not change the equation. It only makes us wonder why Buchanan is still respected in “polite” company. 

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