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Colonel Kagan


You read that right.  A military title with the name of the nominee for the Supreme Court.  It is what Robert Merrill, currently a Marine Corps captain and legal adviser to a Marine infantry battalion in southern Afghanistan calls her, as he makes clear in A veteran’s Harvard ally: Elena Kagan, an op ed in today’s Washington Post.  Merrill is a 2008 graduate of Harvard Law School, attending as an active duty Marine officer as he transitioned from Infantry To JAG.  

He offers high praise of Kagan.

You should read his piece, which makes clear Kagan’s support of those who serve even as she clearly opposed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and abided by the University policy of not allowing the career services office to be used to recruit students at the law school.  Instead she used the facilities of the veterans group, took its members out to dinner on Veterans Day.  

If I have not already convinced you to read the column, please keep reading this diary.  I am sure I will

On the recruiting ban:  

The school’s policy against discrimination was akin to black-letter law. If anything, Kagan was an activist in ensuring that military recruiters had viable access to students and facilities despite the official ban. A Boston-area recruiter later told me that the biggest hurdle he faced recruiting at Harvard Law was trying to answer the students’ strangely intellectual questions.

On why he calls her by a military title:  

I later told her that her blunt style of leadership would have served her well in the Marines. I took to calling her “Colonel Kagan” whenever we crossed paths on campus.

On what she was like as a person towards him, an active duty Marine who had recently served in Iraq:  

During nine years of service in the Marine Corps, I have received a fair number of thanks from friends and strangers alike. I received perhaps the most thoughtful thanks of all just before graduating from Harvard Law School: The supposedly “anti-military” Elena Kagan sent me a handwritten note thanking me for my military service and wishing me luck in my new life as a judge advocate.

This column offers lots of ammo to defend Kagan against the charge of being anti-military. .  But she will clearly defend herself, as Merrill makes clear in his final paragraph:

If Elena Kagan is “anti-military,” she certainly didn’t show it. She treated the veterans at Harvard like VIPs, and she was a fervent advocate of our veterans association. She was decidedly against “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but that never affected her treatment of those who had served. I am confident she is looking forward to the upcoming confirmation hearings as an opportunity to engage in some intellectual sparring with members of Congress over her Supreme Court nomination. I would respectfully warn them to do their homework, as she has a reputation for annihilating the unprepared.

If you have read this far, you now know why I insisted on the importance of this column.

Pass it on.