Republicans want to see Kagan's memos for Bill Clinton
By Shailagh Murray
Senate Republicans pledged Tuesday to give Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan a tough grilling this summer, and they expressed particular interest in her tenure as a domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton.
"It is a confirmation, it's not a coronation," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Concerned about Kagan's thin paper trail and lack of judicial experience, GOP senators said they would seek to learn more about Kagan's Clinton White House service as a potential window into her thinking on major issues. Sessions said he would seek memos and other materials from that period of Kagan's career, which stretched from 1997 to 1999.
"I think that she has a good bit of record," said Sessions. But he added, that record is not yet public, and "it's not the kind of record that allows her to establish the kind of disciplined mental clarity that a great justice on the Supreme Court should have. So that will be part of the way it will be discussed."
Ron Klain, chief counsel to Vice President Biden, told reporters Monday that a White House decision about releasing the Clinton documents to senators had not been reached. "I'm sure the committee will request those papers, and we'll reach an accommodation with the Clinton Library on that," said Klain. "We've got to see what the committee wants to see and we'll go from there."
Republicans said they also would press Kagan on her decision as Harvard Law School dean to bar military recruiters from campus, on grounds that the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians violated the university's discrimination policies.
"The nominee has thin experience, has had some very aggressive political views in her life," said Sessions. "It's going to be critical that whoever puts on the robe of the Supreme Court justice, that they be committed to following the law, even if they don't like it, even if they don't -- they wish it had been different."
Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, characterized Kagan as "very exercised" in her handling of the recruiting incident and said her decision is a legitimate line of inquiry. "My guess is the issue will come up," Kyl said.
May 11, 2010; 3:59 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , The Courts
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