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Originally published April 22, 2010 at 4:38 PM | Page modified April 23, 2010 at 12:41 PM

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Court nominee's sexual orientation nobody's business

There's nothing wrong with a gay U.S. Supreme Court Justice. There is something terribly wrong with a litmus test based on sexual orientation.

CHATTER swirling about the sexual orientation of possible U.S. Supreme Court candidates ought to be put to rest in the future with a single, and oft-repeated, response from President Obama: It's none of our business.

That would have been the correct response when a former Bush administration aide and blogger wrote recently on an CBS News site that one possible nominee, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, is a lesbian. Instead, the White House denied it and issued a strong rebuke to the network.

It should not have. Kagan may be gay, or she may not be. Thus, questions about her sexuality required no response. Especially since CBS quickly deleted the post once its author acknowledged he was merely repeating a rumor.

Instead of putting out a potential fire, the Obama administration fanned smoke into flames. Now political watchers are discussing the private lives of two other potential nominees, Kathleen Sullivan, former dean of Stanford Law School, and Pam Karlan, a Stanford Law School professor. It is important to know some personal things about judicial candidates but whether or not they are lesbian is not one of them.

Let's all repeat: It is none of our business.

Some people speculated that Justice David Souter was gay. Those whispers dogged the justice before and after he was confirmed. As far as the public knows, Souter is a man who enjoys his solitary life. That amount of knowledge is as it should be.

Some critics may seize upon the issue of sexual orientation to discount nominees they do not like. Others may be driven by prejudice and opposition to gay rights. All are entitled to their opinions, but should not be able to deny qualified candidates on the basis of sexual orientation.

An absence of smear campaigns during the upcoming court-nomination process may be asking too much. At least there should be no campaign to smear gays.

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