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New Kagan document undercuts right wing attack

As Elena Kagan's nomination wends its way through the Senate, Republicans have been scouring her record for ways to paint her as a knee-jerk gun control fanatic. The NRA is expected to point their formidable weaponry in her direction, too.

But I've obtained a Clinton-era document that appears to undercut this case. In it, Kagan, then in the White House counsel's office, aggressively argues against a Clinton administration effort to ban the importation of "large capacity feeding ammunition devices," otherwise known as large magazine clips.

The document -- part of a Clinton Library trove of just-released docs --is likely to be central to Dem efforts to undercut the conservative argument that she's an ideologue on gun control. It may irk gun control advocates, but it's unlikely to provoke real opposition from them.

The document in question, which is currently in the hands of Senate Republicans, is a 1995 memo by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. In it the ATF interprets the 1994 Crime Act as imposing a ban on the importation of large magazine clips. Kagan made handwritten notes in the memo's margins taking strong issue with ATF's case.

To boil this down as simply as possible, the ATF memo concerns a provision in the Crime Act that prohibited the importation of ammo clips if they were manufactured after the date of the crime bill. ATF's memo took the position that the law prohibited importation of clips "regardless of the date of manufacture."

In the margins of the memo, Kagan repeatedly took strong issue with the ATF's interpretation. She suggested that the law clearly could only prohibit importation of clips manufactured after the date of the law.

Next to the section in which ATF made its argument, Kagan wrote: "Plain language, guys." This appears to mean she was arguing for a strict interpretation of the law -- which should undercut efforts to paint her as "activist."

Subsequently, the ATF reversed its position, and agreed that the law does in fact allow for the importation of ammo clips made before the law's date. In another memo, which is on page one of the document, Kagan wrote: "This new rule looks to me like a fair intepretation of the statute."

It will be hard to square this memo with claims that Kagan is an "ideologue" or prone to legal "activism."

By Greg Sargent  |  June 11, 2010; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  Senate Republicans , Supreme Court  
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Comments

The neo-nutbag, 2nd amendment, whack-jobs are SO afraid that Obama is going to send in the goon squad with black helicopters and storm troops... What a laugh.. These people are the same ones that STARTED the spreading of lies and continue to this day!

Obama has no intention of 'taking your guns away' and NO LIE-RIDDEN diatribe to the contrary will make any difference! Make sure you unload the weapon before you clean it moron..

Posted by: rbaldwin2 | June 11, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

LOL you still seem to believe they care about accuracy in their accusations. What matters is who says what first, forcefully and repeatedly. If they can get out front and say she's an activist on guns over and over again then that's what people hear first. They won't be interested enough to research it or pay attention later when actual evidence comes out that she isn't. It probably still won't hold up her nomination but its not stopping her nomination at all. Its about painting Dems and especially Pres Obama as SUPPORTING activist judges. Just like the accusations against Sotomayor was about tarring them as supporting racially activist judges. Don't look towards whether she is confirmed, look towards whether she is used in campaign materials in the fall. And not in a good way.

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla | June 11, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

O/T but "must read": Roger Simon has no feet!

"You may cringe. You may squirm. You may admire his candor. But you'll almost surely have a reaction to political columnist Roger Simon's piece in today's Politico.

"Simon tells readers why he's been away since last October: An infection led to blood poisoning and that led to the amputation of his right leg below the knee and most of his left foot.

"If that's not startling enough, Simon injects so much self-deprecating gallows humor into the column that some readers may gasp."

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0610/38396.html

Posted by: sbj3 | June 11, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Liberals never see the truth until it bites them in the ass.

Posted by: fcs25 | June 11, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

The whole nomination process for a Supreme has become a bad joke. It gives an opportunity for Senators and interest group to put on displays which combine silliness, stupidity and assorted low grade tactics that make us the butt of bad jokes in democracies which handle such appointments with little of the nastiness we see.

Posted by: bitterpill8 | June 11, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"Roger Simon has no feet!"

Very sad.

It brings to mind my friend who had both legs amputated that resulted from undiagnosed and untreated diabetes. The reason his diabetes was untreated was because he couldn't get health insurance because of a pre-existing condition (melanoma 15 years ago), and made too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

Beyond losing both his legs in 3 emergency surgeries, he was in intensive care for 35 days, then in a regular hospital room for 14 days, followed by a rehab facility for another 30 days.

At the end of the day, the bill for his care (including a wheelchair, prostetic legs, etc.) was $650,000 that got paid by Medicaid...that would be taxpayers.


Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 11, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

The Second Amendment is stupid. No civilized nation puts the right to possess deadly weapons in its Bill of Rights. Repeal the Second Amendment!

Posted by: wbgonne | June 11, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

stooge-b-gonne:
"The Second Amendment is stupid. No civilized nation puts the right to possess deadly weapons in its Bill of Rights. Repeal the Second Amendment! "

Hitler, Mao and Stalin all agree with this statement.

that's why Chavez paid you to post it, you socialist troll.

Posted by: Bilgeman | June 11, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Pretty weak stuff, Greg.

The ATF position was patent nonsense. It hardly shows Kagan to be a respecter of the 2d Amendment, which, despite wb's belief that the drafters and ratifiers were "stupid" for including it, is part of our supreme law.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 11, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans and their NRA masters have never let the facts get in the way of attacking Democrats.

The bad news for the NRA and their mindless supporters in congress is that each and every generation of young Americans cares less and less about owning guns, shooting guns, and worshiping guns. Very few hunt, even fewer are members of the NRA. They seem to have no intrest at all in preserving the "right" to unrestricted gun ownership.

The NRA and the gun manufactures lobby are only one vote away from losing forever their control of the court; how old is that Kennedy dude anyway?

Posted by: alfa73 | June 11, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

No worries, the Repubs will just invent another phantom. This is who they are, this is what they do, this is their DNA.

Next thing you know, right wingers will be calling for the invasion of Virginia to reclaim the land once owed by Gen. Robert E. Lee - the greatest freedom fighter known to them. Nevermind the land is now Arlington National Cemetary.

Posted by: ScottChallenger | June 11, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

The 2nd amendment should be taken literally. It was written in the 18th century and all it allows are weapons available at the time, ie muskets and bows and arrows. Machine guns,
bazookas, stinger missiles, automatic hand guns were definitely not on the founding fathers minds. The US is the outlier among developed nations in the number of weapons in the hands of private citizens, in the number of deaths from gun fire, and in the number of people sentenced to death. Over all a rather sad spectacle. The NRA is just a lobby for the gun industry pretending to be about personal freedom.

Posted by: serban1 | June 11, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Republicans don't give a flip about gun rights or any of the other pet issues they foam at the mouth about. What they DO care about is gaining power. And they will do it anyway they can. Kagan has no intention of curtailing the 2nd Amendment Rights but Republicans will still label her anti-NRA

Posted by: SteelWheel25 | June 11, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Liberals never see the truth until it bites them in the ass.

Posted by: fcs25
===============================

YOU biting people in the ass has nothing to do with truth

except you cry when you get hit back like the sissy you are.

Posted by: godwithfire55 | June 11, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

stooge-b-gonne:
"The Second Amendment is stupid. No civilized nation puts the right to possess deadly weapons in its Bill of Rights. Repeal the Second Amendment! "

Hitler, Mao and Stalin all agree with this statement.

that's why Chavez paid you to post it, you socialist troll.

___________________________________________

I suspect socialism and gun control have no correlation. But suburban and urban residency does. But if it makes you feel better to believe only monstrously evil people would favor gun control then you do what feels right.

Posted by: kchses1 | June 11, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

The Fascists GOP and NRA will rant and rave anyway.... It's all they got.

Posted by: EdSantaFe | June 11, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Guns don't kill people.

Sharpshooter-qualified riflemen like me kill people.

That and people with belt-fed ammunition and full mags.

See, that's what we Dems do - we serve, not swerve.

Scares you, doesn't it, America-hating Republicant "I'm too busy" cowards ...

Posted by: WillSeattle | June 11, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Greg Sargent is always making comments like, "It will be hard to square this memo with claims that Kagan is an 'ideologue' or prone to legal 'activism.'" Could he really be so naive? The right-wingers (meaning the entire Republican Party) care absolutely nothing about the truth or facts. How will they do it? Simple, they'll just lie and do it despite any little old memo - and most of their flock will believe it.

Posted by: ejs2 | June 11, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

In the margins of the memo, Kagan repeatedly took strong issue with the ATF's interpretation. She suggested that the law clearly could only prohibit importation of clips manufactured after the date of the law.
===========================================
Mr. Sargent I wish you would spend half as much time reading the material as you do writing your Leftist apologetic for Kagan.

Clearly, as a lawyer for the Clintonistas, she was advising ATF on what the law said and not her contempt for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

She, like Eric Holder, is receiving her quid pro quo for keeping Dear Leader Wild Bill out of the slammer.

What we don't know is if she is opposed to the 2nd Amendment like all other Good Leftists who wish to deprive citizens of their Rights and create a workers paradise.

Posted by: krankyman | June 11, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Sargent - anybody dealing with legal interpretation of statutes knows that plain language simply means that if the language is very specific you must accept it as it is written, ie, the plain language. What she would be saying is that the ATF was trying to make an interpretation that contradicted the plain language of the statute. This shows nothing about her personal opinion. If Sargent doesn't know that, he shouldn't be writing columns on legal issues.

Posted by: termiteavenger | June 11, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

The cowardly Republicans who have run and hid from military combat, most especially nearly all of them currently in the Congress, and their racist, hillbilly supporters have substituted their genitalia for guns.
Never mind that they can't shoot straight, not even caged quail per the bigDick Cheney. Guns make them think they have something and the big bucks from the NRA can be counted upon.
Have you ever really looked at Wayne LaPierre, the NRA head, draft dodger extraordinaire! A simpering sort of individual, kind of like Limpballs. The NRA doesn't give a good darn about the proliferation of murders acrossed America and they whine and moan about any city that tries to ban the sale of high-powered rifles and automatic weapons.
They also don't give a darn about the law enforcement officers who have lost their lives trying to protect us all from the devestation left by the power of the NRA. I am sick of hearing that thugs get illegal guns, but that is why they are so easy to get illegally. The illegal gun sales have the NRA backing and any laws trying to stop the dealers from selling to anyone out of the back of their cars, is met with threats from the NRA.
I wish to heck, Kagan actually had the power to reduce the NRA to what it actually is, an anti-American army of the white supremacist movement. They would like nothing more than to bring about another civil war, right up their alley. Of course, Wayne LaPierre and all of those cowards on Faux News won't be anywhere near the revolution, they'll be hiding out with Cheney.

Posted by: papafritz571 | June 11, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

papafritz - you are entitled to your opinion, but at least understand the laws before you misstate. Dealers cannot legally sells guns out of the back of their cars without doing background checks. When you obviously don't understand current laws, it's obvious your opinion is based on misinformation, thus diminished.

Posted by: termiteavenger | June 11, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

So I look at Greg's picture, and I think, wow, Corky. But then I think, no no, the guy writes a column in the WaPo, he's smart. So I read his column and I'm led to conclude one thing:

Corky.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | June 11, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

papafritz - you are entitled to your opinion, but at least understand the laws before you misstate. Dealers cannot legally sells guns out of the back of their cars without doing background checks. When you obviously don't understand current laws, it's obvious your opinion is based on misinformation, thus diminished.

Posted by: termiteavenger | June 11, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

***
That's like saying it is illegal to rob a convenience store, but they do it anyway. I live in Baltimore and illegal weapons sales are done all the time and that is why the murder rate is so high. The NRA looks the other way whenever any sensible, reasonable proposal is offered. They live in fear of losing their white privilege and power. The are directly responsible for the proliferation of weapons in this country that are used against us tax paying citizens. They usurp our right to live in peace and murder free so they can keep their right to wealth and power. Don't tell me background checks are done on all sales. If you believe that you are very naive. fritz

Posted by: papafritz571 | June 11, 2010 10:50 PM | Report abuse

John, We all love our dogs but there are times you just wish you could just turn off their barking. Well now you can with BarkOff, the ingenious ultrasonic training aid that finally gives you control over your dogs barking check out http://bit.ly/aU8uRW

Posted by: wannjoe | June 12, 2010 4:19 AM | Report abuse

John, We all love our dogs but there are times you just wish you could just turn off their barking. Well now you can with BarkOff, the ingenious ultrasonic training aid that finally gives you control over your dogs barking check out http://bit.ly/aU8uRW

Posted by: wannjoe | June 12, 2010 4:20 AM | Report abuse

Uh....well....gosh. Doesn't anyone else see this as a foreboding sign that Kagen isn't the right person? More ammunition. More Guns. More Corporate power.

Just what we need, another Harvard egg-head to keep us, either in the status quo (corporations are people - just without the responsibility part), or more movement to the right. Do we really need ANOTHER Harvard insider? How many more decades of regressive policy do we need to make the ubber-rich richer and the poor poorer? Haven't they done enough damage already?

Posted by: rjmmcelroy | June 12, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps what she meant by "Plain language, guys" was not an argument "for a strict interpretation of the law" but rather a statement in plain language that makes the meaning clear.

Posted by: dsbosley1 | June 12, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

The Second Amendment has been reduced to a marketing slogan meaning "Buy Guns, it's Your Right."

Posted by: leifrakur2 | June 12, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

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