Tags: US | Kagan | Documents

Kagan's E-Mails to Go Public As Hearings Approach

Friday, 18 Jun 2010 04:52 PM


Ever wish you could comb through a public figure's e-mail? Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's e-mails are about to go public as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee's preparations for her confirmation hearings in a little more than a week.

The William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., is set Friday to release approximately 80,000 pages of e-mails — about 11,000 of them written by Kagan. It's the final installment of documents related to her service as a domestic policy aide and White House counsel to former President Bill Clinton.

It's the third week in a row the files will be made public on a Friday afternoon — the customary time in official Washington for dribbling out unfavorable information or disclosures one hopes won't draw too much attention.

Another roughly 80,000 pages of paper files already have been released, revealing Kagan's role in managing the scandals of the Clinton administration, her pragmatic streak dealing with complex issues such as tobacco regulation and her political instincts weighing in on issues such as abortion, gun control and drug sentencing.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader, said Friday the papers that have emerged so far make it hard to believe that Kagan could be an impartial justice.

"We must be convinced that someone who has spent the better part of her career as a political adviser, policy advocate and academic rather than as a legal practitioner or a judge can put aside her personal and political beliefs, and impartially apply the law, rather than be a rubber stamp for the Obama or any other administration," McConnell said.

The White House and Clinton have opted to keep a small fraction of the information private, allowing only Judiciary panel members and their top aides to see it. But the 160,000 pages of information is far more than the committee received for other recent high court nominees.

The Judiciary panel is scheduled to begin confirmation hearings on Kagan on June 28.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the committee chairman, said he doesn't foresee postponing the hearings despite Republicans' complaints that the schedule won't give them enough time to review Kagan's record. He expects a confirmation vote in July by the full Senate.

Leahy thinks Kagan was right when she wrote in the 1990s that Supreme Court nominees should be more forthcoming, but he doesn't expect her to be during his hearings, he said in an interview Thursday.

"She was right in saying we should get more information," Leahy said in remarks scheduled to air Sunday on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program. But "I would suspect that it will be difficult to get really specific information."

At the end of the day, Leahy added, "you still have to make some kind of a guess" about what kind of justice a nominee will be.

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