Elena Kagan & Class Analysis

Are you familiar with Friedrich Hayek, the practitioner of class analysis and ideological unmasking?  Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty pointed out that individuals who were merely organizational employees or bureaucrats and have never participated as constantly re-calibrating risk takers, entrepreneurial learners, and production re-arrangers would be individuals with a very different understanding of the workings of the social – economic system — and with very different values concerning the relation of individuals to that system. These individuals would have little life understanding of the most important aspects of the functioning of the market economy, and in many ways they would resent those aspects of it which didn’t privilege themselves — and provided rewards and penalties to others. And they would come to replicate their limited and inadequate understanding of the social system and their self-interested bureaucratic employee class values in their market-innocent and bureaucratic-dominated educational organizations. (On this see for example F. A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, pp. 118-130).

Hayek identifies lawyers and university professors in particular as members of the cognitive elite with little or no understanding of the functioning of the overall social – economic order which make all of our lives possible.  As Hayek puts it using the example of the individual with a law degree, “The rules of just conduct which the lawyer studies serve a kind of order of the character of which the lawyer is largely ignorant.”

But what happens when we continually put individuals in charge of making the law who feel bound only to arrive at the “best” outcome in the particular case making use of their class-informed sense of “social justice”  — and largely without regard to the written text of the Constitution and the traditional principles of liberal law?  What happens when these people have little experience of the world outside of the educational – political complex of the Washington – New York – Boston corridor?  In Elena Kagan we have a woman who has never had a job or a lived outside of this political – educational complex.  And she’s the second Obama nominee in a row with nearly an identical MO — like Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor has an Ivy League law background both professionally and as a student, is from New York City, is unmarried and childless, and both even have the same undergraduate degree from the left of center history department at Princeton.

I’ll pick this thread up later.

UPDATE:  Read more on Kagan, diversity, life experience, ideology, and the Supreme Court here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

UPDATE II:  Not only will the three women on the Supreme Court be from New York city and  Ivy League law schools, all three will be former summer associates at the New York city law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

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One Response to Elena Kagan & Class Analysis

  1. hjp says:

    Being a graduate from an Ivy League school is not a negative. The negative is that the Supreme Court is losing Educational Diversity amongst its members. A very simple example could be vanilla ice cream. Everyone likes vanilla ice cream. The problem arises when you limit your diet exclusively to vanilla ice cream. You get lots of calcium, but you lose out on all of the other needed vitamins and minerals to live a healthy productive life. The same can be said about losing the diversity of knowledge and diverse perspectives that people from other institutions can provide. The majority of the Supreme Court Judges should not be Ivy League graduates.

    I am of the opinion that the Supreme Court is setting itself up for a legal challenge, as to whether or not 1) their opinions are in fact biased due to their common Ivy League education, and 2) they are engaging in discrimination, by limiting the Court to Ivy League Graduates.

    The following applies to Kagan, just as it did to Sotomajor.

    This editorial was created by 160 Associated Press readers under a Creative Commons Share-Alike Attribution License 3.0 using MixedInk’s collaborative writing tool. For more about how it was created, see here. It can be republished only if accompanied by this note.

    Obamas Appointment of Sotomayor Fails to Offer Educational Diversity to Court.

    Sotomayor does not offer true diversity to our Supreme Court. The potential power of Sotomayor’s diversity as a Latina Woman, from a disadvantaged background, loses its strength because her Yale Law degree does not offer educational diversity to the current mix of sitting Judges. Once she walked through the Gates of Princeton and then Yale Law School she became educated by the same Professors that have educated the majority of our current Supreme Court Justices, and our Presidents.

    Diversity in education is extremely important. We need to look for diversity in our ideas, and if our leaders are from the same educational background, they lose the original power of their ethnic and gender diversity. The ethnic and gender diversity many of our current leaders possess no longer brings a plethora of new ideas, only the same perspective they learned from their common Ivy League education. One example of the common education problem is that Yale has been heavily influenced by a former lecturer at Yale, Judge Frank, who developed the philosophy of Legal Realism. Frank argued that Judges should not only look at the original intent of the Constitution, but they should also bring in outside influences, including their own experiences in order to determine the law. This negative interpretation has influenced both Conservatives and Liberals graduating from Yale. It has been said that Legal Realism has infested Yale Law School and turned lawyers into political activists.

    A generation of appointees with either a Harvard or Yale background, has the potential to distort the proper interpretation of our Constitution. America needs to decentralize the power structure away from the Ivy League educated individual and gain from the knowledgeable and diverse perspectives that people from other institutions can provide. We should appoint Supreme Court Justices educated from amongst a wider group of Americas Universities.

    Harvard –

    Chief Justice John Roberts
    Anthony Kennedy
    Antonin Scalia
    Stephen Breyer
    Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Harvard, Columbia)


    Samuel Alito – Yale JD 1975
    David Souter
    Clarence Thomas – Yale JD 1974
    Sonia Sotomayor – Yale JD 1979

    Northwestern Law School.

    Justice John Paul Stevens

    The Presidents we have elected for the last twenty years, have themselves been Harvard or Yale educated. This has the potential to create an even more closed minded interpretation of our laws.

    Yale – Bush Sr. – 4 years
    Yale Law – Clinton – 8 years
    Yale – Bush, Jr. – 8 Years
    Harvard Law – Obama – 4 – 8 years

    When we consider that our Nation has potentially twenty – eight years of Presidential influece from these two Universities, as Americans, we should look long and hard at the influence Yale and Harvard have exerted on our nation’s policies. Barack Obama promised America Change, but he has continued the same discriminatory policy by appointing a Yale graduate over many qualified candidates that graduated from other top Colleges and Universities in America.

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