Elena Kagan and the Crack/Powder Sentencing Disparity

Obama's Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan once served as deputy director of President Clinton's Domestic Policy Council, where she served on a working group that argued for delaying critically important sentencing reforms:

The memos…show that Kagan served on a government working group that decided to dial back the Clinton administration’s efforts to decrease the disparity in sentencing between crimes involving crack and those involving powdered cocaine. A draft report from the group painted the decision as a grudging but realistic one based on a stalemate in Congress over the issue. "Our more nuanced message will not sell as well as the 'tough on crime' opposition message in an age of sound bites," the report read. [Politico]


What an ugly quote and a rare glimpse inside the twisted thought processes that have allowed our worst mistakes to endure for so many shameful years. It's just sickening to think that some of the drug war's most racist policies might have been fixed more than a decade ago if spineless advisors like Kagan hadn't put politics ahead of equal justice.

In purely political terms, they might have been right – sentencing reform took several more years to gain sufficient momentum – but do we want this sort of callous and calculating partisan operative deciding who is and is not protected under the U.S. Constitution?

Update: I edited the post to make it clear that Kagan was part of a group which made this recommendation, and wasn't solely responsible for it herself. A wise colleague pointed out to me that it's possible she didn't even agree with the position of the group. In the context of the Politico story, it's clear she made a lot of politically motivated decisions at that time, but I could be off-base in blaming her personally for recommending this position on the sentencing disparity.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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maybe...

I'm not sure if I necessarily agree with that assessment. I disagree with kagan's view on executive power but I don't think that the political spinelessness that kagan is as an adviser will necessarily translate to political spinelessness as a judge. That's because she doesn't have to worry about being re-elected (or her boss being re-elected). So while her actions were regrettable i'm not sure how it will translate to her as a judge.

Good point

however, I don't trust any nominee put up by either a Republican or a Democrat president. the position is supposed to be "non-partisan" but we all know each president only looks at those who share his politics. I would be absolutely shocked to see any president nominate a person really knowledgeable about the Constitution, a REAL Constitutional scholar like Michael Badnarik -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nOMbfsgZ9s&feature=related

As far as Obama's supposedly being a Constitutional scholar, I don't believe it, I think it's an out and out lie. The stuff he advocates that government should do is so far from Constitutional he can't have come within a mile of any copy of the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence (ever in his life), let alone studied it!

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

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