As the National Archives prepares to release another trove of Elena Kagan's records on Friday, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said today that he's ready to ask for a delay in Kagan's confirmation hearing if all records aren’t released soon.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he and his GOP colleagues would have to ask for more time if documents are withheld or if their staff lawyers don’t have enough time to review the documents. Speaking to reporters in the Capitol along with Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Sessions didn’t set a deadline for any final release, but he said, “I’m getting very worried about it.”
Kagan’s confirmation hearing is scheduled for June 28. The National Archives released some 46,500 pages of her records from the Clinton White House on June 4, and it is set to release another 41,759 pages Friday at 1 p.m.
“I certainly think that we ought to be able to complete the process before August,” Sessions said, “but whether we can have a legitimate hearing on the 28th without sufficient time to review the documents is another matter.”
Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has shown little sympathy for the Republican complaints about access to records, noting that senators had little time to review documents prior to the 2005 confirmation hearing for Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.
Sessions and Kyl kept up their criticism of Kagan based on the records that have been released. In one memo that Kagan wrote as a clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall, she suggested that a case could become a “vehicle” to create “some very bad law on abortion and/or prisoners’ rights.” Kagan recommended denying a petition for certiorari — a position that Kyl called too policy-oriented.
“I’m uncomfortable with the degree to which, as a law clerk, she seems to be pulled so easily into the notion of taking cases or not based upon what her perception is of what they’ll do with it,” Kyl said.
In a statement late Thursday, Leahy responded: “It is unsurprising that her evaluation of cases as a law clerk was mindful of Justice Marshall’s longstanding jurisprudence, and that her recommendations to him applied the lens through which he viewed cases and the law.”