There has been quite the kerfuffle over Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s sexuality. Is she gay? Straight? Single? Pining away over a pint of ice cream and a chick flick? How does her sexuality – or lack thereof, if some of the articles touting her as a spinster are to be believed – affect her potential as a Supreme Court Justice? And, honestly, does it really matter?
America, as a country, is obsessed with sex. And repelled by it. Lolita-esque pop tarts continually try to claw their way up the Billboard top 100. Seven-year-olds dance to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” in lingerie. But God forbid a politician has a sex life, much less an illicit one. As soon as the most recent incumbent is found embroiled in an extramarital scandal, the moral majority response squad swings into action. If an incumbent comes out of the closet, his/her positions on various issues are recast as a result of his/her sexual proclivities.
But what I have always found interesting is how we manage to equate sexuality – no matter how it is expressed – with someone’s effectiveness at doing their job. Take Bill Clinton. Sure, that Monica Lewinsky thing was ill-advised. And not handled well. But while Clinton was in office, he stabilized the economy. Social Security was on track. But Monica Lewinsky is what’s remembered about his time in the oval office.
When vetting a Supreme Court nominee, it seems top priority is given to evidence showing his/her political views. Though sexuality could explain a stance on same-sex marriage or perhaps abortion, it doesn’t have to have an impact on a candidate’s positions and political views. And we now know Kagan is straight. But what if she’s – gasp – a spinster?
That Kagan has not been married means she does not have experiences shared with the majority of America’s female population. But it does not mean that she cannot handle cases featuring domestic issues with both reason and compassion. Whether she is single by choice or circumstance has no effect on what her career on the bench would look like. What members of the Supreme Court do in their downtime has no bearing on their decisions while in those voluminous robes. Do you remember the page in John Stewart’s book America that featured the Supreme Court in all their naked glory? Too much information. The same with Kagan’s love life.