McConnell Wonders If Kagan Would Ban Political Books, Pamphlets

Monday, 17 May 2010 05:56 PM

By Jim Meyers

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Republicans opened a new line of attack on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, questioning whether she backs banning certain books and pamphlets.

During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called the prospect that Kagan, who now is solicitor general, might support book-banning “very troubling.”

The question stems from the campaign finance case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC). During oral arguments in March 2009, Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart defended the FEC for blocking the release of “Hillary: The Movie,” a documentary Citizens United produced that was critical of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, during the 2008 campaign.

Stewart also stated that, under certain circumstances, the government could ban books during a campaign if they advocated the election or defeat of a candidate and were published or distributed by a corporation or union.

Kagan sought to distance herself from Stewart’s arguments, saying in September 2009 that the administration no longer believed the FEC had the authority to ban or restrict the distribution of books, Roll Call reported on Sunday.

But Kagan maintained that the restriction of some political pamphlets could be permitted.

McConnell said: “Solicitor Kagan’s office in the initial hearing argued that it would be okay to ban books. And then when there was a rehearing, Solicitor Kagan herself in her first Supreme Court argument suggested that it might be okay to ban pamphlets.

“I think that’s very troubling, and this whole area of her view of the First Amendment and political speech is something that ought to be explored by the Judiciary Committee and by the full Senate.”

Republicans have launched attacks against Kagan on several fronts, including her lack of courtroom experience, although “none of these attacks are expected to be game-changers,” according to Roll Call.

But Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., voiced his opposition to Kagan within hours of her nomination. He said in a Newsmax interview that Kagan is not qualified for the post and that he would participate in a filibuster to prevent her confirmation.

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