David Bernstein at Volokh wonders whether this Harvard-Yale thingee isn’t a bit much:
The president went to Harvard, and barely defeated a primary opponent who went to Yale. His predecessor went to Yale and Harvard, and defeated opponents who went to Yale and Harvard, and Harvard, respectively. The previous two presidents also went to Yale, with Bush I defeating another Harvard grad for the presidency. And once Elena Kagan gets confirmed, every Supreme Court Justice will have attended Harvard or Yale law schools.
Harvard and Yale do attract a great many good students. But they also help to create and then perpetuate a certain perspective, do they not? Don’t we want diversity? Let’s hear it for diversity!
And those on the left who think Elena Kagan isn’t liberal enough might be comforted that, at least back in 1980 as an about-to-be Princeton grad, she sure was. Here’s an excerpt from a letter to the editor she wrote in 1980, after Ronald Reagan’s election (neither a Harvard nor a Yale man be he):
Looking back on last Tuesday, I can see that our gut response — our emotion-packed conclusion that the world had gone mad, that liberalism was dead and that there was no longer any place for the ideals we held or the beliefs we espoused — was a false one. In my more rational moments, I can now argue that the next few years will be marked by American disillusionment with conservative programs and solutions, and that a new, revitalized, perhaps more leftist left will once again come to the fore. I can say in these moments that one election year does not the death of liberalism make and that 1980 might even help the liberal camp by forcing it to come to grips with the need for organization and unity. But somehow, one week after the election, these comforting thoughts do not last long. Self-pity still sneaks up, and I wonder how all this could possibly have happened and where on earth I’ll be able to get a job next year.
We know that Kagan’s job search ultimately went rather well, although not right away (after writing the letter, she attended Oxford and then Harvard Law). And of course we should not all be judged by sentiments expressed when we were seniors in college. But since Kagan hasn’t said much about her politics in recent years, there’s been little to redress the picture presented by this missive.
As far as Kagan’s legal writing output goes, Eugene Volokh notes that, although Kagan’s production of articles as a legal scholar was somewhat light when she was a law professor, it was within the acceptable range, and in his opinion its quality was quite high. And he’s actually read it, unlike the rest of us.
[NOTE: If you’re especially interested in learning more about Kagan, there’s a lot more information in many posts at Volokh.]