Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on Tuesday defended her position to restrict military recruiter access to Harvard Law School while she was dean, telling a Senate panel she always acted within the law.
But Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama attacked Miss Kagan's argument, saying that it was "unconnected to reality."
The debate took place during the second day of an expected week-long confirmation hearing before Senate Judiciary Committee.
Miss Kagan said she never barred recruiters from campus. Rather, she said she let the school's military veterans association sponsor recruiters instead of the school.
Miss Kagan said the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy against allowing gays and lesbians to serve opening in the military clashed with the school's anti-discrimination policy.
"The military had full access to our students, both before I became dean and after I became dean," said Miss Kagan, 50, who now serves as the U.S. Solicitor General, the federal government's top litigator before the Supreme Court.
She said she personally disagrees with the 'don't ask, don't tell' rule but that she admires the military.
"I respect and indeed I revere the military," said Miss Kagan, who added that her father served in the military. "I always tried to make sure I conveyed my honor for the military."
But Mr. Sessions said the nominee's response was disingenuous and questioned whether her actions created a hostile atmosphere toward recruiters and treated them in a "second-class way."
"The Air Force and the Army says they were blocked, they were stonewalled, they were getting the run-around from Harvard," Mr. Sessions says. "I feel like you mishandled that, I'm absolutely confident you did."
The lawmaker also said he was concerned over characterizations that Miss Kagan was a "progressive in the mold of [President] Obama" and that she was bring a "progressive influence" to the court with the intend of re-interpreting the Constitution.
"That's a dangerous philosophy," he said. "That's a philosophy not justified by any judge on the court."
Miss Kagan, who worked as an advisor in the former Clinton administration answered that "I don't know what that [progressive] label means."
"I'm not quite sure how I would characterize my politics, but one thing I do know is that my politics would be, must be, have to be completely separate from my judging," she said.
© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.