Two top Senate Republicans took aim Thursday at memos authored by Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan as a young clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall, laying out what are likely to be the GOP’s key talking points at her nomination hearing later this month.
Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona, who also sits on the panel, told reporters on Capitol Hill that the memos written by Kagan more than two decades ago appear to indicate that she would bring her politics to the court to obtain certain results. The documents include a memo that says a school desegregation is “amazingly sensible” and another that said the use of taxpayer money for abortions in prison is “well-intentioned.”
Kyl said he would not vote to confirm a justice who is “results oriented.” But the Arizona senator said he hasn’t reached a final decision on whether to vote in favor of Kagan, who he endorsed for Solicitor General.
“I’m uncomfortable with the degree to which, as a law clerk, she seems to fall so easily into the notion of taking cases or not based upon what her perception is the court will do with it and her own personal feelings about that,” Kyl said. “It suggests to me that this is how she will view her role as a justice.”
The Republicans expressed frustration with her short legal record. Kyl said Kagan, who has spent most of her professional life in academics and politics, has a higher burden of proof to meet since she hasn’t served as a judge.
Sessions said Kagan should face thorough questioning at her hearing that is set to begin on June 28.
“I do think that we have to be rigorous, going beyond just a bland statement that ‘I’m going to be faithful to the law,’ ” Sessions said.