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GOP wants Clinton-era papers on Kagan

WASHINGTON — Republicans hunting for clues about what kind of justice Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan would be said Tuesday they want to see papers from her time serving in the Clinton administration.

The focus on Clinton-era documents reflects the GOP's difficult task of turning up material that could power opposition to Kagan, the solicitor general who appears likely to be elevated to justice barring extraordinary developments during her confirmation process.

"It is a confirmation, it's not a coronation," said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee that will hold hearings on Kagan's nomination.

"She's never been a judge. Never litigated cases except in the last few months as solicitor general. And so she lacks a good bit, frankly," Sessions said.

GOP leaders said that makes it even more important that they get their hands on documents she worked on while serving as an adviser for Bill Clinton from 1997 to 1999.

"We need to understand what it was that she was involved in, whether there were controversies surrounding that," said Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Republican. "And if that means that there are documents we need to see, we should see them. … We are determined to understand what her role was in the Clinton administration as it pertains to her qualifications to serve as justice."

Kagan, 50, is to meet today with leaders of both parties as well as Sessions and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., as she begins the delicate and closely watched ritual of making "courtesy calls" to the senators whose votes she'll need to win confirmation.

Fast facts

What next in nomination?

1. President Barack Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan is sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

2. Kagan will visit senators, beginning today when she meets with Sens. Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and Jeff Sessions.

3. The Senate Judiciary Committee, which has 12 Democrats and seven Republicans, will hold a hearing, likely in early summer. The committee usually takes a month to collect and receive all necessary records, from the FBI and other sources, about the nominee and for the nominee to be prepared for the hearings.

4. During the hearings, witnesses, both supporting and opposing the nomination, present their views. Senators question the nominee on her qualifications, judgment and philosophy.

5. The Judiciary Committee then votes on the nomination and sends its recommendation (that it be confirmed, that it be rejected, or with no recommendation) to the full Senate.

6. The full Senate debates the nomination. Senate rules allow unlimited debate, or filibustering. To end the debate requires the votes of 60 senators.

7. When the debate ends, the Senate votes on the nomination. A simple majority of senators present and voting is required for the nominee to be confirmed. If there is a tie, the vice president casts the deciding vote.

8. Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., predicts that the Senate would act by early August so Kagan could be sitting on the court when it comes back into session next October.

Sources: Georgetown University Law Library; McClatchy Newspapers

GOP wants Clinton-era papers on Kagan 05/11/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 10:49pm]
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