I am still reading up on Kagan myself. It's a bit difficult for me to stay fully informed while the last term of my junior year of college is winding down. However, Melissa at Shakesville wrote an informative post before the nomination was official, and here's a link about some of the lesbian rumors that have been coming up around her nomination. If you have any additional links that might provide other useful information about Kagan's nomination, feel free to leave them in comments.
So, while I admit that I am still in the process of learning about Kagan, one thing I can comment on is Bill O'Reilly assertion that knowing the sexual orientation of a nominee to the U. S. Supreme Court is important to the American public. The following quote is one I found yesterday on Shakesville (the video can be found here, also via Shakesville).
"Americans have a right to know if their Supreme Court justice has an orientation that may or may not dictate which way she votes on a vital issue. … Don't Americans have a right to know, on something as important as gay marriage, all right, if there is a Supreme Court justice nominee who is in that world?" - Bill O'ReillyMy analysis of this quote goes in line with what Melissa said on her blog. The Supreme Court does not make its decisions based on the personal preferences of the justices. Yes, personal differences in political ideology among justices may impact how they interpret the Constitution when applying it to cases the Court hears, but sexual orientation has nothing to do with that.
It is also important to note that while cases that make it before the Court may end up influencing public policy (such as whether or not same-sex marriage is allowed), creating that policy is not the end of the Court. The Supreme Court is supposed to interpret the Constitution. The particulars of a case must have the backing of that document for the Justices to make a decision.
Cases heard by the Supreme Court are brought before the Court on very narrow terms, and the only job of the Court is to determine if those terms constitute a violation Constitutionally guaranteed rights. As Melissa noted, Roe v. Wade was decided not based on the fact that the justices liked abortion. It was a matter of the guarantee of privacy and due process that just so happened to make abortion legal in the United States.
And really, it's just annoying for Bill O'Reilly to make such a big deal out of the possibility that Kagan is not heterosexual. If he honestly believed it was such an important thing for the American people to know (as opposed to just a reason to put doubts about her in the minds of those people), then why does he seem unconcerned about the orientation of the other sitting justices?
*This link is to the page for the Solicitor General. While that currently means that the information here is specifically about Kagan, the information found here may no longer be relevant to this post in the future.