Tags: obama | gay | justice

Push is on for First Gay Justice

Tuesday, 05 May 2009 08:21 PM

By David A. Patten

Gay and lesbian organizations are encouraging President Obama to nominate the country's first gay justice to the U.S. Supreme Court -- a move one conservative watchdog group lambasts as "identity politics gone wild."

In an article titled "Out lesbian a contender for Supreme Court nomination," GayPolitics.com suggests Stanford Law professor Kathleen Sullivan is a top candidate for the job.

Sullivan, a former dean of the university's law school, is founder and director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, which hosts conferences and lectures.

The Law Center's Web site states that it places a special emphasis on "individuals' speech and privacy rights and the structural separation of powers within our system of government."

Sullivan has filed several briefs with appeals courts in gay-rights cases.

Another gay Stanford law professor, Pam Karlan, is also being mentioned, Politico.com reports.

"It's no secret at all that I'm counted among the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered] crowd," Karlan wrote to Politico. She appeared to downplay her chances of getting the nomination, however.

"Given the landscape, I'm flattered, but not fooled, by having my name tossed around," she wrote.

During the campaign, Obama said he would nominate judges who have "empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old."

Obama has nominated 35 openly gay or lesbian officials to serve in his administration, the GayPolitics.com Web site says.

In March, Obama appointed Emily C. Hewitt to serve as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Hewitt is an ordained Episcopal priest, and her biography states she is married to attorney Eleanor Dean Acheson. Obama also nominated a lesbian to serve as a D.C. Superior Court judge.

JudicialWatch.org President Tom Fitton says promoting a Supreme Court Justice based on sexual orientation is "identity politics gone wild."

Fitton tells Newsmax: "There's this notion that's developing around the Supreme Court that the decision should be based on the person's skin color, gender, or sexual identity, all three of which are inappropriate."

He adds out that a gay justice might be pressured not to participate in cases related to gay marriage or similar topics. And he's skeptical that gay-rights advocates believe such an appointment is in the offing.

"What I think this is about, more so than the reality of an appointment along those lines," Fitton tells Newsmax, "is that special interest groups in that part of the Democratic coalition are letting it be known to the Obama White House that they need to be paid attention to.

"It's calculated in the sense that it may force the Obama White House to say, 'Well, you can't have this, but you may get something else down the road,'" Fitton says.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council told Politico that appointing a gay Supreme Court justice would become a costly political distraction for Obama.

"I think that would be a bridge too far for him to be honest because that would enter a whole new element into the debate that I don't think he's ready for," Perkins said. "A parallel to that would be Bill Clinton's gays in the military battle, which really hurt his agenda from that point forward."

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