Bring on all perspectives

Of all the things that commend Elena Kagan to a spot on the U.S. Supreme Court, one issue stands out for me: her penchant for seeking a diversity of opinion.

Kagan’s tenure as dean of the Harvard Law School included an initiative to bring in more conservative faculty members. Her idea was that that Harvard was becoming too much of a liberal echo chamber, with too much sameness among faculty members. So, she recruited professors with a different point of view on legal matters.

This has drawn howls from the left, who think that President Obama has selected a closet conservative to sit on the highest court in the land.

No, the president has chosen someone who relishes good debate, intellectual stimulation and a wide range of thought.

I’m baffled as to why such a thing is seen by some as a negative. It should instead be seen as a compelling reason to confirm her.

She’ll get pummeled by those on the right for a number of issues: lack of judicial experience, her career in academia, whatever. Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican, has sent a strong signal of skepticism about Kagan over her lack of bench experience. Perhaps that criticism might be moderated somewhat if he considers her intent to bring more right-leaners onto the Harvard faculty.

The issue here isn’t that she sought more conservatives. The issue actually is that she honors the tradition at a fine university as a place where all views are welcome. Universities should be places that give all perspectives a thorough airing.