Leahy: Senators Have More Documents For Kagan Than They Had For Bush Nominees

The National Archives is producing more documentation, and producing it faster, for the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court than it did for either of George W. Bush’s nominees to the high court, according to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The National Archives and Records Administration has produced more than 87,000 pages of documents from the Clinton administration related to Kagan’s work both on the Domestic Policy Committee and in the White House Counsel’s office, according to a statement from Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), designed to rebut GOP criticism that senators are lacking in documentation to consider President Obama’s pending Supreme Court nomination.

The production of paper files on behalf of the Kagan nomination is more thorough than that which was completed for either of Bush’s nominations of John Roberts or Samuel Alito to the high court in 2005, Leahy says. It has also been completed faster than the document production for either of those nominations –- more than two weeks before the hearings are set to begin on June 28.

Obama last month nominated Kagan to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Kagan currently serves as Obama’s solicitor general, the administration’s top lawyer to the Supreme Court. Kagan previously held high posts within Bill Clinton’s administration during the 1990s.

Conservatives generally have come out to oppose the Kagan nomination.

The Judiciary panel will hold hearings with Kagan before voting to send her nomination to the full Senate, or reject the nomination.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking Republican on Judiciary, last week complained documents pertaining to Kagan and her career were not being made available.

“Any argument that the Committee does not have the materials necessary to evaluate this nomination is misguided and misplaced,” Leahy says. “All paper files related to Elena Kagan that were located by an extensive search at the Clinton Library have now been produced to the Committee. With more than two weeks before the start of the confirmation hearing, the Archives has completed its review and production of her White House files and there is more than enough time for Senators and their staff to review them. This has been the timeline the Archives anticipated and presented to Committee staff several weeks ago. The staff at the Archives and the Clinton Library has worked quickly and thoroughly to produce these materials.”

In the 32 days since Obama announced the Kagan nomination, the National Archives has produced more than 87,000 pages of documents related to her work in the Clinton administration. By contrast, Leahy notes in a factsheet posted on his Senate website, as of Aug. 21, 2005, 32 days after President George W. Bush announced his designation of Roberts as chief justice, the Judiciary Committee had received fewer than 60,000 pages of documents from the Reagan and Bush I administrations.

The Ronald Reagan Library produced more than 18,000 pages of documents related to the Roberts nomination just four days before the Roberts hearing was set to begin. By contrast, the Clinton Library has completed its production of paper files more than two weeks ahead of the hearing for Kagan’s nomination, Leahy says. The Judiciary Committee will also receive what Leahy termed “unprecedented access” to electronic mail by the end of this week.

The Archives will produce electronic mail files from a Supreme Court nominee’s work in a presidential administration for the first time in history with the Kagan nomination, the factsheet notes.

Kagan served for six years in Senate-confirmed or high level positions the executive branch under the Clinton and Obama administrations. Both Roberts and Alito served for longer periods of time in Senate-confirmed or high level positions in the Reagan and Bush I administrations. But though she served for a shorter period of time, more executive branch documents have been produced to date relating to Kagan’s nomination than were produced during the pendency of the Roberts and Alito nominations, the Leahy factsheet says.

“The documents released today show Elena Kagan to be a brilliant lawyer, advising President Clinton on a variety of complex issues,” Leahy says in a statement released Friday. “These documents provide a unique window not only into Elena Kagan’s record, but into history. I look forward to discussing these matters with Solicitor General Kagan during her confirmation hearing.”

The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.

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