Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, taking space oft reserved for Patrick McIlheran--and borrowing heavily from McIlheran's playbook of false implications and innuendo--trots out the shouldn't-it-be-debunked-enough-by-now story of Elena Kagan and the military recruiters.
After Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court, conservative opponents seized upon and distorted a story from her tenure as Dean of the Harvard Law School as a cudgel against her. Problem is that, undistorted, the story not only doesn't support the conservative line--"Kagan kicked military recruiters off campus!"--but actively undermines their argument that she might be anti-military.
Robert C. Clark, Kagan's immediate predecessor at Harvard Law, took to the pages of the conservative Wall Street Journal earlier this spring to lay the story to rest. There was apparently one semester under Kagan's tenure when the military recruited in a different location than the school's Office of Career Services, but at no time were they barred from campus or prohibited from recruiting Harvard Law graduates. Had Sessions done even cursory research, he would have known better than to accuse Kagan of "actively obstructing the military."
But that's not all!
NPR's Nina Totenberg went beyond Clark's clear defense, and actually interviewed people involved in the controversy during that one semester. Totenberg recounts how, upon deciding that the military wouldn't be able to use the OCS, Kagan actively sought other ways for the military to recruit:
But while her public position as dean was to revert to the anti-discrimination policy, Kagan reached out privately to the Student Veterans Association, asking the members, some of them Iraq War veterans, to once again act as a proxy for the placement office. [. . .]No one ever said that Jeff Sessions was the cream of the crop on the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Indeed, you see a lot of the opposite.) But this is beyond even his level of pale. It's pretty clear that Sessions has no use for facts or reality.
If the student vets had turned her down flat, Kagan had a backup plan for a faculty member to act as the facilitator.
[Current Harvard Law Dean Ellen] Cosgrove says Kagan's reasons were twofold. First, she "wanted to figure out a way to support the military by sending them some of the best and brightest young lawyers that would be graduating from Harvard," and secondly, she wanted to "support students who had an interest in a military career."
Kagan apparently succeeded because the numbers of students who signed up with the military remained constant while she was dean. In fact, they even occasionally increased.
What's sadder is that the Journal Sentinel ran the op-ed anyway.