Republicans to boycott Kagan hearing?; Update: Video added

posted at 10:56 am on June 22, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have grown increasingly frustrated at the reluctance of the Obama administration to produce Elena Kagan’s work from the Clinton administration.  Sen. Jeff Sessions estimates that the Clinton library still holds over 1600 documents from their review.  In order to draw attention to one of the most low-key Supreme Court nominations in years, Sessions warned that Republicans may walk out of the opening day of Kagan’s confirmation hearing:

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, on Monday evening warned that Republicans may boycott the start of Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court hearings if senators do not get to review scores of documents from the solicitor general’s past.

“I don’t feel like we’re prepared yet,” Sessions told POLITICO. “It’s becoming more clear that this is not an easy thing to get ready this quick.”

Sessions said there appeared to be 1,600 withheld documents, which cover Kagan’s time as a senior White House aide under President Bill Clinton but were not released because of confidentiality concerns. And he called for the Obama administration to at least provide key senators and staff with a chance to privately review the confidential documents so they could weigh in on the validity of the decision to withhold the documents.

Asked if Republicans would boycott the hearings if they did not get to review the documents, Sessions said: “If we feel like we can’t go forward with the hearings … because we don’t have sufficient documents, then yes, we may feel compelled to do whatever it takes to try to insist that the process be done right.”

That would at least make some headlines.  The Kagan nomination has had an extraordinary lack of interest in the media, which Politico notes, probably due to the Gulf oil spill and the lack of overall drama in this nomination.  Democrats control enough votes to get Kagan confirmed.  Unless she gets up on the conference table and unfurls a North Korea flag and starts reading from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, she will pass with no trouble at all.  Even that kind of performance would get her 30 votes.

If the Republicans walk out, though, it will bring the proceedings to a temporary halt.  The Judiciary Committee cannot proceed without at least one Republican in attendance; without that, no quorum exists.  With a recess coming up in a few weeks, any stoppage might put off final confirmation until close to the time when the Supreme Court returns.  More likely, however, would be a symbolic hiatus of a day or two in order to force the media to cover the lack of transparency in this unusual nomination of a political operative with no judicial experience whatsoever.

Update: Sessions blasted Kagan in a floor speech today:

“So we need a fair and honest evaluation. I, for one, have frankly been disappointed in this administration’s obfuscation, deliberately attempting to hide the nature of what happened at Harvard, because it was, in fact, inexcusable.”


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Maybe Sandy Berger has some copies.

fogw on June 22, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Good we have enough “Make it up as you Go” Liberal Activist Judges ..

wheels on June 22, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Let’s call for an independent investigation! Oh, wait…the nominee is a Democrat? Oh, well in that case…nothing to see here, move along.

search4truth on June 22, 2010 at 11:01 AM

Unless she gets up on the conference table and unfurls a North Korea flag and starts reading from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, she will pass with no trouble at all. Even that kind of performance would get her 30 votes.

At least 30.

forest on June 22, 2010 at 11:01 AM

I would imagine there’d be at least one R who would stay in the interest of “reaching across the aisle.”

They should, however, simply refuse to vote for her confirmation until the records have been released/reviewed with enough time to actually read them first.

DrAllecon on June 22, 2010 at 11:02 AM

At least they could show some moxcy and Bork her before the Dems vote her in. She seemed to like ‘Borking,’ and I’m all in favor of giving people what they want.

Cody1991 on June 22, 2010 at 11:02 AM

The Republicans shouldn’t participate at all without those documents in their hands, IMO. Let the history books show that the entire confirmation hearing was a fraud from start to finish.

FloatingRock on June 22, 2010 at 11:03 AM

I would hope that a few of them would return to ask some probing questions of the nominee. She’ll get the rubber stamp of approval from the committee, then go to get fitted for her robe. Another academic unqualified to hold the seat.

Kissmygrits on June 22, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Unless she gets up on the conference table and unfurls a North Korea flag and starts reading from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, she will pass with no trouble at all.

You really shouldn’t be sneaking through her yard and peaking into her windows like that.

RBMN on June 22, 2010 at 11:05 AM

I thought she liked the idea of being Borked…didn’t she state that was a good thing?
Nothing I would like more then to hear here squeal about the unfairness of being Borked, after proclaiming how great it was.

right2bright on June 22, 2010 at 11:05 AM

They would have to find their balls first.

stenwin77 on June 22, 2010 at 11:06 AM

I like it. Ask her a couple of questions about her college thesis. (Not the 130 pages of footnotes; just the 10-page radically Socialist Conclusion she reached.)

Then ask her to please provide copies of the other 1600 documents she produced.

She refuses; and all the Republicans get up and walk out.

Works for me.

logis on June 22, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Unless she gets up on the conference table and unfurls a North Korea flag and starts reading from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, she will pass with no trouble at all.

The racist Chris Matthews gets another tingle up his leg.

Make the lack of transparency from this regime the central point — it will be a good play for November.

rbj on June 22, 2010 at 11:06 AM

We have to confirm Elena Kagan so we can see what’s in the documents.

……Nancy Pelosi

Knucklehead on June 22, 2010 at 11:06 AM

At least they could show some moxcy and Bork her before the Dems vote her in. She seemed to like ‘Borking,’ and I’m all in favor of giving people what they want.

Cody1991 on June 22, 2010 at 11:02 AM

ooops, didn’t see your post…we have the same view, Bork her just for the fun of it, that’s what she gets a kick out of.

right2bright on June 22, 2010 at 11:07 AM

There’s been a call to filibuster because the Obama administration refuses to release her records.

http://www.rollcall.com/issues/55_150/ma_congressional_relations/47510-1.html

taney71 on June 22, 2010 at 11:09 AM

They are fully justified in walking out, and preventing a quorum. We deserve to know what information is being hidden.

I am positive the NYT will tell us all about the skeletons in her closet, the day after the confirmation.

Vashta.Nerada on June 22, 2010 at 11:09 AM

Hard to have balls unless you have balls. Well, Jan, Sarah, Liz, Michelle and Nikki have more than all of them.

LtE126 on June 22, 2010 at 11:10 AM

Most transparent administration, evah!

GarandFan on June 22, 2010 at 11:11 AM

The Republicans shouldn’t participate at all without those documents in their hands, IMO. Let the history books show that the entire confirmation hearing was a fraud from start to finish.
FloatingRock on June 22, 2010 at 11:03 AM

In law, that’s a common practice called subpoena duces tecum.

I would assume at least ONE of the many lawyers in the RNC would remember how to do that.

logis on June 22, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Delay is good. Delay, delay, delay.

Normally I can’t stand the get-along GOP Senators and they can still disappoint, but if they grow balls big enough to boycott this hearing I will applaud them.

MTF on June 22, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Can we just make stuff up about her? She liked the Bork hearings.

Dash on June 22, 2010 at 11:14 AM

Another disgrace from this awful administration. Liars, all of them.

WisCon on June 22, 2010 at 11:16 AM

She needs a good Borking.

Hening on June 22, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Unless she gets up on the conference table and unfurls a North Korea flag and starts reading from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, she will pass with no trouble at all.

Optimism. I like it.

BobMbx on June 22, 2010 at 11:18 AM

Unless she gets up on the conference table and…starts reading from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, she will pass with no trouble at all.

And if she doesn’t have her copy she can probably borrow Anita Dunn’s.

pain train on June 22, 2010 at 11:19 AM

The lies and deceptions are continuous from this administration. It seems they are incapable of the truth on any matter. Kagan will be a leftwing extremist’s rubber stamp so the GOP should vote present and let the demonrats show what they can do without bi-partisanship.

volsense on June 22, 2010 at 11:20 AM

why participate in ANYTHING Obama?

golfmann on June 22, 2010 at 11:21 AM

Wait, wasn’t it a bad thing to boycott important meetings? Didn’t the Soviet Union make a big blunder in boycotting the Security Council of the United Nations in 1950?

saveliberty on June 22, 2010 at 11:21 AM

again, JUST IMAGINE IF BUSH DID THIS WITH HARRIET MYERS?

SDarchitect on June 22, 2010 at 11:21 AM

The wheels are falling off the Obus at rate I could not have even hoped for (well other than before the 08 election), his role as CinC is a joke and his commanders openly ridicule him, his efforts to make health care affordable have taken a crap with insurance rates jumping 13% vs 7% last year, more people drop from housing releif program than stay in, his economic stabilization plan has banks folding at twice last years rate, the inadequacy of Big Gov to move adroitly to the gulfspill shows his incompetence, and appearing on a stage with him is the kiss of death of any candidacy.

The rep’s need to boycott Kagan and keep the pressure on the obviously easily rattled neophyte in the Oval to cripple the statist takeover in Washington. This is a man who has never seen adversity, a man incapable of withstanding even mild criticism, if the hits keep-a-comin he will collapse in a petulant narcisstic meltdown.

There is blood in the water, it is time to vanquish the prey!

Archimedes on June 22, 2010 at 11:23 AM

I have a Coke can with a pubic hair on it with red roots. Where do I send it?

honsy on June 22, 2010 at 11:24 AM

I know I don’t need to say that this woman is being chosen by Obama bcs of toadyism.
Bcs it sure as he!! isn’t bcs she’s got any real accomplishments in the legal world.

Not the 130 pages of footnotes; just the 10-page radically Socialist Conclusion she reached.)
logis on June 22, 2010 at 11:06 AM

LAMO!
This is how so many stupid people in academia write papers nowadays.
They cannot form their own words & opinions.
They are robots.

Badger40 on June 22, 2010 at 11:24 AM

LMAO!
oops! Ha ha!

Badger40 on June 22, 2010 at 11:25 AM

Good one Knucklehead.
Kagan’s comments on the Bork lynching are very instructive; I always think of that Kennedy speech as the turning point, when the left dropped it’s facade of belief in the American process and went full-bore for ends justify the means. Apparently Kagan feels the same way, though she likes it and I think most of us see it as a tragedy.
Bork her. Is there no one(ahem) out there who got hit on by Kagan in a sexually harassing manner?

motionview on June 22, 2010 at 11:28 AM

The Republicans on the Judiciary Committee need to make a public show of the fact that the documents are not available. Once the documents ARE available, they need to ask Kagan some tough questions. They might not be able to prevent her from being confirmed, but they could make the point that the Senate needs more Republicans to prevent other leftists like her from being confirmed in the future.

Steve Z on June 22, 2010 at 11:28 AM

Rozell & Sollenberger: Senate Needs Full Access to Kagan Files
June 21, 2010
By Mark J. Rozell and Mitchel A. Sollenberger
Special to Roll Call

The confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan to be the next Supreme Court justice are soon upon the Senate, but her full record is not. If Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and his colleagues continue on their present course, the hearings will commence next week before the issue of releasing the records of her past service in the Clinton White House is settled.

Indeed, even if the Obama administration does not claim executive privilege, and if the presidential library of former President Bill Clinton agrees to relax its hold on some of Kagan’s past memos, then a massive document dump on the committee on the eve of the hearings will not give adequate time to review the nominee’s record. Regrettably, Chairman Leahy does not appear committed to pushing for the timely release of all of Kagan’s records before the confirmation hearings begin. That is just wrong.

The failure to press for the full record of any such high-level nominee, especially one who will likely serve for decades to come, undermines important constitutional principles of checks and balances and democratic accountability. It is the duty of the Senate committee, regardless of partisan affiliation, to protect its prerogative to have access to all information that is germane to the past record and qualifications of such a nominee.

A good example to remind the Senate committee members of is what happened in 1986 when President Ronald Reagan nominated Associate Justice William Rehnquist to become the next chief justice of the Supreme Court. The Republicans controlled the Senate at the time, and the party members on the committee easily could have pushed through the nomination without demanding documents. But when the president claimed executive privilege to withhold documents pertaining to the nominee’s past service in the Nixon administration, members of the Judiciary Committee of both parties took the stand that they would delay the hearings until the documents were made available. The president withdrew his executive privilege claim, the documents were released and the nominee was confirmed.

That is how the system is supposed to work, and it is an important lesson for the current controversy over a possible executive privilege claim to withhold documents from Kagan’s service during the Clinton administration. In the ideal case, committee members of both parties should stand together to protect the institutional prerogative and duty of the Senate to have a fair hearing based on the full record of the nominee. If that means delaying the hearings for perhaps a few weeks, then that is a very small price to pay for conducting this process properly.

If Chairman Leahy and the Democratic majority choose instead to assert the will of the majority to move the nominee quickly through this process without a full airing of the record, then Republican Senators have a duty to use whatever means they can to stop that from happening. Most likely, that means a filibuster.

There is another telling example for the Senators to consider. Back in 2001 and 2002, Chairman Leahy and his Democratic colleagues blocked a committee vote on D.C. Circuit Court nominee Miguel Estrada because of the Bush administration’s refusal to allow the release of documents from his past service in the solicitor general’s office. In September 2002, Judiciary Committee Democrats held a confirmation hearing for Estrada where they blasted the Bush administration for its lack of cooperation. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who chaired the hearing, said he didn’t dispute Estrada’s legal qualifications but said that’s “not enough.” He wanted the release of documents and explained: “I don’t know what is in those solicitor general records. They may vindicate you, they may not. They may be somewhere in between, but we really need much more a record” especially when confirmation means an appointment onto “the second-highest court in the land.”

When the Republicans took over the Senate in 2003, they erred by quickly reporting Estrada out of the committee despite the fact that the DOJ documents still had not been released. The Democrats correctly stood their ground and decided to filibuster. The nominee thus never was confirmed. Again, the system worked.

Lifetime positions to the nation’s highest court should receive an especially thorough and considered review. Once confirmed, excepting rare impeachment proceedings, the justices are no longer answerable to the Senate and the public. For that reason, the president must authorize the release of Kagan’s records as soon as possible. Chairman Leahy and the committee members must insist on having the full record or delay the process until the Obama administration cooperates. And if that does not happen, the Republicans absolutely should not hesitate to filibuster this nomination. They must know that under different partisan configurations in Washington, Leahy and his Democratic colleagues would do exactly that.

Mark J. Rozell is professor of public policy at George Mason University and the author of the book “Executive Privilege.” Mitchel A. Sollenberger is assistant professor of political science at University of Michigan-Dearborn and the author of the book “The President Shall Nominate.”

taney71 on June 22, 2010 at 11:31 AM

Obama’s Presidential Memoir: The Opaqueness of Transparency

Disturb the Universe on June 22, 2010 at 11:34 AM

I thought she liked the idea of being Borked…didn’t she state that was a good thing?
Nothing I would like more then to hear here squeal about the unfairness of being Borked, after proclaiming how great it was.
right2bright on June 22, 2010 at 11:05 AM

If the Left didn’t have Double standards, the wouldn’t have standards at all.

To them, the ends Always justifies the means no matter what.

We could use the exact same tactics on their Activist Socialist judicial nominees and they would scream like stuck …. farm animals..

…… And the NSM would back them up to the hilt, bank on it.

Chip on June 22, 2010 at 11:35 AM

a political operative with no judicial experience whatsoever

Big deal, there is a man in the White House who had no experience whatsoever before getting elected and his tenure has been just dandy.

Bishop on June 22, 2010 at 11:38 AM

They need to find their stones and walk out, and not for a single day, but until the summer recess or until all of the documents have been produced.

With the thugacracy of Obama, it is time to fight them in every way possible to bring their agenda to a complete halt.

Kagan must not be confirmed, but then again, since I’m a life member of the NRA, I guess that means that I’m kind of like a member of the KKK…

crashland on June 22, 2010 at 11:39 AM

The wheels are falling off the Obus at rate I could not have even hoped for (well other than before the 08 election), his role as CinC is a joke and his commanders openly ridicule him, his efforts to make health care affordable have taken a crap with insurance rates jumping 13% vs 7% last year, more people drop from housing releif program than stay in, his economic stabilization plan has banks folding at twice last years rate, the inadequacy of Big Gov to move adroitly to the gulfspill shows his incompetence, and appearing on a stage with him is the kiss of death of any candidacy.
Archimedes on June 22, 2010 at 11:23 AM

That’s a pretty good summary. I can think of a few things to add:

- Obama’s hand-picked commanders are openly ridiculing him.

- Obama didn’t just “fail to adroitly respond” to the BP spill; his administration was and still is seriously impeding both local and worldwide cleanup efforts, and may have even moved to cover up the initial signs of problems with the rig of their largest oil company campaign contributor.

- Oh, and the elephant in the living room: unemployment, after what was by far largest “stimulous” plan in world history, is today much higher than the worst-case scenario Obama threatened if there had been NO increase in goverment spending.

logis on June 22, 2010 at 11:44 AM

I think Kayan scares me more than obama

shell be around for forty years and will be a robot to her masters

the repukes really have to nut up for this one and shatter her

Sonosam on June 22, 2010 at 11:47 AM

I really have my doubts over any courage the Republicans may have over this.
I hope they prove my pessimism wrong.

Badger40 on June 22, 2010 at 11:47 AM

Kagan

spell cor

Sonosam on June 22, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Won’t happen. Not a Sarah Palin or Jan Brewer in the bunch.

Marcus on June 22, 2010 at 11:48 AM

There’s a former head of British Special Forces, two Navy Seals, an Afghan Special Forces commando, a lawyer, two fighter pilots and at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. They jokingly refer to themselves as Team America, taking the name from the South Park-esque sendup of military cluelessness, and they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority
I love these guys.

motionview on June 22, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Legally apeaking BHO will leave the White House in either two or six years. This nomination is for life. I just don’t think the Repubs have the cajones to walk out. We will be stuck with another political operative for life.

d1carter on June 22, 2010 at 11:52 AM

It seems like the transcripts of the Bork hearings inquisition would make fertile ground for questions of this nominee. The Republicans could also make sure to use the word “Bork” as a verb frequently.

For example: “I apologize if it seems I am trying to Bork you Ms. Kagan, but I think it is important for us to know whether you have quit Borking your colleagues as you so famously have in the past.”

drunyan8315 on June 22, 2010 at 11:53 AM

She seemed to like ‘Borking,’ and I’m all in favor of giving people what they want.

Cody1991 on June 22, 2010 at 11:02 AM

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

itsnotaboutme on June 22, 2010 at 11:57 AM

sorry, I’m on the wrong thread ;-(

motionview on June 22, 2010 at 12:00 PM

I really have my doubts over any courage the Republicans may have over this.
I hope they prove my pessimism wrong.

Badger40 on June 22, 2010 at 11:47 AM

If they can’t smell the blood in the water these last few weeks, then they have no business being in D.C.

John the Libertarian on June 22, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Let’s be serious…they can’t find one good looking attorney/judge to put on the Supreme Court? Not one?
They are telling us you can’t be good looking and smart?

right2bright on June 22, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Big deal, there is a man in the White House who had no experience whatsoever before getting elected and his tenure has been just dandy.

Bishop on June 22, 2010 at 11:38 AM

Yep and now we are experiencing the natural and logical consequences of what happens when said community organizer (“isn’t that a little like a governor except with no real responsibilities”?) is faced with real responsibilities – EPIC FAIL!!!!!!!!

huskerdiva on June 22, 2010 at 12:59 PM

I believe there is more to this woman than meets the eye. She’s an all out radical, just like the rest of her family. So it makes me even more curious….what’s in those witheld 1600 pages, that Obama doesn’t want anyone to see?

capejasmine on June 22, 2010 at 1:02 PM

Sorry but that ‘type of performance’ would get Kagan 57 votes. Maybe there would be one or two Senators who might vote against her or abstain from voting for her, but most democraps would not cross Obama on a left wing nominee the way repubs opposed various Bush nominees. I just worry that a boycott would produce on one day of hearings and that the committee sans repubs would vote her out ‘unanimously’. The press would report the unanimity without reporting the republican boycott. (Since it’s a female nominee, shouldn’t that read ‘galcott’?)

eaglewingz08 on June 22, 2010 at 1:08 PM

“That would at least make some headlines.”

Yeah, knowing the MSM, they’d be like “Evil Racist Homophobe Republicans Block Progress AGAIN!!11!”

KS Rex on June 22, 2010 at 1:54 PM

Would anyone buy a car or a house (new or used) without knowing as much as they possibly could about it? In the case of a car, we are talking about a realistic lifespan of at best 15 years; with a house it could be much longer.

Would anyone go to just ANY doctor to take care of a serious health issue? If we don’t like a doctor, we can usually find another one that we feel will do a better job.

We don’t have those luxuries with a Supreme Court Justice – Ms. Kagan could potentially serve up to 40 years before she is replaced.

Time for the Repubs to man up and do what’s right for the country; not worry about how their Dem colleagues will view them in the future (they’re uneducated children anyway, and will not extend the Repubs the same courtesy down the road).

TeresainFortWorth on June 22, 2010 at 2:11 PM

Bork her, then philibuster her. Sauce for the goose and all that.

Mini-14 on June 22, 2010 at 3:37 PM

indeed, the only strategy that makes sense is to delay the shit out of everything. This congress cannot be allowed to take any more actions.

As for Kagan, she’s a bad actor. But she’s replacing a bad judge. She’ll be unpersuasive and useless as a justice. Just a reliable vote.

joeindc44 on June 22, 2010 at 4:03 PM