Tuesday, May 11, 2010
That is not Elena Kagan, in some real or imagined dialogue.
That was Donna Shalala in 1992, Clinton's Secretary of Health and Human Services. Janet Reno, Clinton's third and ultimately successful nominee for Attorney General explicitly told reporters she was "attracted to strong, brave, rational, and intelligent men."
The absence of heterosexual bona fides, however, for both Shalala and Reno meant that rumors about their sexuality dogged them.
As recent discussions about Elena Kagan here, here, and here demonstrate, things haven't changed as much as one might have thought. But what relevance is sexual orientation in terms of a nation's highest court?
In 1993, I argued "we need a Lesbian on the Supreme Court," and then unpacked what such a statement might mean in terms of both identity and identity politics, as well as constitutional doctrine. The article, The Specter of a Lesbian Supreme Court Justice, is now available on ssrn here.