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Latino legal group refrains from endorsing Kagan for Supreme Court

From Gustavo Valdes, CNN
  • The influential Mexican American Legal Defense Fund focuses on Latino issues
  • The group says it has decided not to endorse Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court
  • The group will remain neutral because her record is unclear on Latino concerns
  • Still, the group cites her "exemplary record" and "intellectual achievement"

(CNN) -- As the Senate nears it vote on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, the influential Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) has decided not to endorse her and to remain "neutral."

In a commentary written for the online news site the Huffington Post, MALDEF President Thomas Saenz said the confirmation process ignores the concerns of an "increasingly Latino United States."

"This rare decision comes because Kagan's record as an attorney is too ambiguous for MALDEF to make an informed determination about her current knowledge and potential understanding of Latino legal concerns," Saenz wrote.

Saenz also criticized the confirmation process in the Senate as "a predictable battle of partisan sound-bites, many of them resting on half-truth and unsupported assumption."

But the commentary is far from critical of Helena Kagan, and Saenz admits the decision not to endorse her was a difficult one.

He said a number of MALDEF's board members strongly encouraged the group to endorse her. "Kagan has an exemplary record of public service and intellectual achievement, and despite plainly partisan opposition to her confirmation, she is well-qualified to serve as a jurist," he said.

But he noted, "through no particular fault of the candidate's own, the record lacks an indication that Kagan has an understanding and appreciation of some of the major legal issues of concern to many in the Latino community."

A vote on Kagan's confirmation could come before the end of the week.

MALDEF, founded in 1968, is a national non-profit civil rights organization focusing on Latino issues.