May 13, 2010 10:25 am


I am less than enamored with the appointment of Elena Kagan to the supreme court. Why? Because she is not only yet another Harvard law graduate on a court limited to Harvard and Yale law graduates but that she thinks that state of affairs highly desirable. When she headed Harvard Law School she told a graduate that he should direct all his charitable giving to Harvard Law because she wishes to make the school the center of governing power of the US. Such a blind elitist view is troubling at anytime. It is particularly troubling during Jacksonian or democratic periods in which we are currently living. Her appointment is sure to further increase the current mutual alienation between the elite and the citizenry.

A Jacksonian era is one in which the common man has lost his trust in traditional governing elites, demands that his interests and values be taken into serious consideration. One of the strengths of Democratic governments is the ability of the system to accommodate such movements through the ballot box. Of course, that is also the reason that elites are so envious of autocratic elites whose hold on power seems less fragile if one ignores those occasional nasty revolutions and their guillotines.

Jacksonian instincts as astutely defined by historian Walter Russell Meade can be summed us thus:

The driving belief of the Jacksonian school of thought is that the first priority of the U.S. Government in both foreign and domestic policy is the physical security and economic well-being of the American populace. \

Jacksonians believe that the US shouldn't seek out foreign quarrels, but if a war starts, the basic belief is"there's no substitute for victory" – and Jacksonians will do pretty much whatever is required to make that victory happen. If you wanted a Jacksonian slogan, it's"Don't Tread On Me!"

Jacksonians are generally viewed by the rest of the world as having a simplistic, uncomplicated view of the world, despite quite a bit of evidence to the contrary.

Jacksonians also strongly value self-reliance."Economic well-being" to a Jacksonian isn’t about protectionist trade barriers. Rather, it is about providing Jacksonians with the opportunity to succeed or fail on their own.

There is little doubt that the Tea Party movement is Jacksonian to the core or that they are sure to evict a large number of current Congressmen come 2010. But Jacksonianism is not confined to the US. There is a rise of Jacksonian movements in Europe and sentiments in Europe. They played a role in the electoral defeats suffered by the British and German mainstream parties. Indeed, at this moment, the most successful Jacksonian regime is ruling Turkey. The fiercest struggle for power between an elite and Jacksonians is taking place in Thailand. The Reds are classic Jacksonians and the reluctance of the Thai elite to submit to the verdict of the ballot has been costing the country both lives and treasure.

Only a disconnected elite can be so blind as to the appointment of yet another committed Harvard elitist to the Supreme Court as anything but utter recklessness. But do not count on the Lame Stream Media or its readership to understand it.

UPDATES: Jonathan Tutley, Evidence of a Supreme Court (Ivy Harvard) bias. Let me reiterate. Kagan worked hard to encourage this imbalance.

Nominations like Kagan's are the result of a network of graduates who work consciously or unconsciously to see that their own are nominated. Notably, after Kagan's nomination, powerful figures from her Harvard years came forward to vouch for her abilities. Their message was the same: Despite her lack of a record, she is known in our circle as a real winner. She is, in a phrase, one of us. Indeed, reporters breathlessly reported how Kagan and Scalia are good friends and how she knows many of the main players from Harvard, as if it is the judicial equivalent to having graduated from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The favoritism shown Harvard and Yale should be viewed not just as incestuous but as scandalous. It undermines educational institutions across the country by maintaining a clearly arbitrary and capricious basis for selection. It also runs against the grain of a nation based on meritocracy and opportunity.

If there is one place in the world that should be free of such baseless bias, it is the Supreme Court of the United States. But that would require looking a bit west and south from the banks of the Charles River.

Walter Shapiro, Elena Kagan: Obama's Inevitable Court Choice (She's Harvard)

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