Kagan theses to be available online
By Garance Franke-Ruta
The White House announced Monday that it would make Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's Princeton senior thesis available for online publication. Her Oxford graduate thesis would also be made available for online posting, a White House official said, as "a demonstration of our commitment to transparency."
Permission to publish the two papers will be granted when the White House sends the Senate Judiciary Committee Kagan's responses to questions from the panel about her background, an administration official said. But it remains unclear when that will happen, in large part because the Clinton Presidential Library is still compiling documents from Kagan's four-year tenure in the Clinton White House.
Princeton University had sent news organizations and blogs copies of the thesis for research and personal use purposes -- hence the many excerpts from it in news stories -- but objected when a conservative blog posted the full document online late last week. The university declined to grant permission to The Post to publish it, as well, saying Friday that only Kagan could give that permission because she was the copyright holder on the 1981 document detailing the collapse of the Socialist Party in New York.
Asked by The Post for permission to publish the document Friday, the White House said it would review the matter. Other major media outlets also requested permission last week to publish the paper.
Access to the senior thesis, on a topic of keen interest to those who would seek to divine clues to Kagan's judicial philosophy from her youthful history department scholarship, had threatened to become a point of controversy after conservative blog RedState.com published it online Thursday, only to receive a letter Friday from Princeton demanding that it be taken down.
RedState complied, but over the weekend liberal blogger and economist Brad DeLong also objected to the university's stringent defense of its former student's copy rights and published the thesis, sparking anew attention to the question of why Princeton was seeking to keep the full document out of the public record.
Blog Infidels Are Cool also had published the thesis Thursday and on Friday a Washington state man uploaded it onto Scribd, further demonstrating the difficulty of keeping documents off the Web once they have been formatted electronically, especially in a media environment in which small, nontraditional outlets routinely flout copyright laws and citizens have access to powerful document-sharing technology.
By opening access to the theses, the White House seemed to be signaling that it recognized the theses would be less of an issue -- conservative bloggers have seized on the Princeton thesis to argue that Kagan, and by extension Obama, are socialists -- if made freely available to the public.
May 17, 2010; 12:08 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Supreme Court
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