Quotes of the day

Conservative critics have derided her as antimilitary and have predicted she would be an “activist judge’’ bent on imposing her personal views on the Constitution. At least one Republican senator has vowed to block her confirmation because of her 2004 move to prevent the military from officially recruiting Harvard Law students — a decision she was later forced to reverse under the threat of federal sanctions.

Capt. Kyle Scherer, 25, who graduated from the law school last year and is now a military intelligence officer with the Army in Afghanistan, said by phone last month from Kabul that Ms. Kagan always supported students interested in the military. When recruiters came on campus, Ms. Kagan would send out e-mail messages, saying, in effect, “we distinguish between those who serve their country and the discriminatory policy under which they serve.”

Last year, when he was promoted from first lieutenant to captain in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, he invited her to the ceremony and gave her the honor of pinning his captain’s bars on his shoulder.

In part because of these connections, still more because of the vital role the military plays in the well-being of our country, I have been been grieved in recent years to find your world and mine, the U.S. military and U.S. law schools, at odds indeed, facing each other in court – on one issue. That issue is the military’s don’t-ask don’t-tell policy. Law schools, including mine, believe that employment opportunities should extend to all their students, regardless of their race or sex or sexual orientation. And I personally believe that the exclusion of gays and lesbians from the military is both unjust and unwise. I wish devoutly that these Americans too could join this noblest of all professions and serve their country in this most important of all ways.

But I would regret very much if anyone thought that the disagreement between American law schools and the US military extended beyond this single issue. It
does not. And I would regret still more if that disagreement created any broader chasm between law schools and the military. It must not. It must not because of what we, like all Americans, owe to you. And it must not because of what I am going to talk with you about tonight – because of the deep, the fundamental, the necessary connection between military leadership and law. That connection makes it imperative that we – military leaders and legal educators – join hands and be partners.