The Clinton Library has released a cache of documents from Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's days as an adviser to President Bill Clinton. The 46,700 pages of memos, correspondence and reports, which are available in full online, include comments on a vast range of national issues, from campaign finance reform and education to abortion and gay marriage. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and political commentators have scoured the documents in an attempt to shed light on Kagan's still-murky political views. What, if anything, do Kagan's notes say about what kind of justice she would be?
She's a liberal activist judge: The documents reveal "not only Ms. Kagan's strong liberal views," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a statement, but her "willingness to bring those views into the courthouse." From "abortion to crime control," Kagan's memos "unambiguously express a leftist philosophy" and expose a "troubling" approach to the law.
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But she's also pragmatic and capable of compromise: The documents simply "reveal Kagan's pragmatic mind-set as well as her willingness to negotiate across partisan and ideological lines," says Victoria Pynchon in Forbes. While her opinions on "the 'hot button' issues" do not "stray far from those held by Democrats," the documents show Kagan's ability to compromise on issues like business regulation. Above all, the documents show an impressive grasp of a vast "breadth of national policy issues."
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Gun control could be a confirmation issue: Republicans will undoubtedly "attack" Kagan for her support of the "assault weapons ban," and a host of other Second Amendment restrictions, says Greg Sargent in the Washington Post. That said, "the Republican plan to revive 1990s-era arguments about gun control seems more about riling up the base and appearing to take a stand against Kagan." It's unlikely to create real problems for Kagan.
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This is only the beginning: Don't forget, says Dan Amira in New York, "there's a lot of data to sift." And with "an additional 114,000 or so more pages yet to be released," it will be a while before we learn all there is to know about Kagan's politics. But "hopefully," as we get deeper into this glut of documentation, "more-interesting insights into Kagan's beliefs will be discovered."
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