Elena Kagan, newly nominated by President Obama for the Supreme Court, will surely be peppered with questions by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Something tells me, though, that at no point will Kagan be asked the most critical question.
As the Times reports this morning:
The young Ms. Kagan was independent and strong-willed. Mr. [Bill] Lubic [her father’s law partner of 20 years] recalls her bat mitzvah — or bas mitzvah, as it was then called — in a conservative synagogue, where Elena clashed with the rabbi over some aspect of the ceremony.
“She had strong opinions about what a bas mitzvah should be like, which didn’t parallel the wishes of the rabbi,” he said. “But they finally worked it out. She negotiated with the rabbi and came to a conclusion that satisfied everybody.”
I know that Supreme Court nominees are famously tight-lipped. But Americans — and most especially Jewish Americans — must know. Solicitor General Kagan: What battle did you wage with your rabbi at your bat mitzvah?
Did it have to do with Jewish gender roles? A disagreement about the interpretation of the HafTorah? A question about who could sit with the bat mitzvah girl on the bimah?
Let others debate whether Kagan is an activist judge (though it would hard to be more activist than Scalia, Roberts, et. al), or whether she is too progressive (her senior thesis at Princeton was about Socialism in New York City! She clerked for Thurgood Marshall!) … we need to know, Ms. Kagan: what prompted you, as a 13-year-old girl, to take on your rabbi, and how did you get him to cave?
I’ve got a hunch that this liberal Jewish woman — who has taken great pains in her career to reach out to conservatives, including Scalia — is exactly what’s needed on the increasingly conservative Roberts court.