Kagan on ACOG memo: Did I do that?

posted at 1:36 pm on June 30, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

If  the intent of Elena Kagan’s testimony in the Senate Judiciary Committee is to build confidence in her competence, her answer to Orrin Hatch about a controversial memo has to be a huge step in the wrong direction.  Despite the issue having been in the news for the last 24 hours and the centrality of it to the Clinton-era efforts to stop a ban on partial-birth abortion, Kagan initially claimed ignorance of the issue.  Only when pressed did Kagan recall her intentions, as Byron York and LifeNews‘ Steven Ertelt both report this afternoon:

“Did you write that memo?” Hatch asked.

“Senator, with respect,” Kagan began, “I don’t think that that’s what happened — ”

“Did you write that memo?”

“I’m sorry — the memo which is?”

“The memo that caused them to go back to the language of ‘medically necessary,’ which was the big issue to begin with — ”

“Yes, well, I’ve seen the document — ”

“But did you write it?”

“The document is certainly in my handwriting.”

But after finally admitting that she wrote it, she then dismissed it:

Hatch continued to press Kagan about the document, and she ultimately told Hatch she didn’t think she had the power to alter ACOG’s statement: “there was no way I could have or would have intervened” in ACOG drawing up its own opinion.

Kagan said she wrote the memo to present the “most accurate understanding” of what ACOG thought about partial birth abortion and said ACOG’s original statement didn’t represent the totality of what it thought about partial-birth abortion as originally expressed to the Clinton administration. …

“They could think of circumstances in which it was the best or most appropriate procedure and that it was the procedure with the least risk” for women’s health. “We informed President Clinton of that fact and there did come a time when we saw a draft statement and I had some discussion with ACOG about that draft.”

“I recall generally talking to ACOG about that statement and about whether that statement was consistent with the views we knew they had,” [she] said to explain away the criticism.

“The document is certainly in my handwriting” is a way to say, “I’m not going to explicitly admit writing it.”  Otherwise, why not just say, “Yes, I wrote it”?  Note also the “I recall generally talking to ACOG” rather than “this is what I wrote and why I wrote it.”  It’s deceptive and only somewhat responsive to what Hatch asked and why he asked it.

In other words, it’s more or less an Urkel defense of saying, “Did I do that?”  Kagan seemed ill prepared to discuss the memo, despite the debate that has erupted since yesterday over its meaning.  When she did discuss it, she did so in an evasive manner.  I doubt seriously that this alone will derail her confirmation, but this evasiveness plus her utter lack of judicial experience should have Senators questioning the wisdom of this choice, and questioning Kagan with more enthusiasm on her track record as a political activist within the Clinton administration.

Update: Shannen Coffin, who published the memo and its edits, responds at National Review:

First, the ACOG task force — formed specifically and solely for the purpose of studying the medical efficacy of the procedure — met for two full days in October 1996, and the result of their collective work was a statement concluding only that it could identify no particular circumstances where the partial-birth method might be the only method to save the health or life of the mother, but that the committee thought it important to leave that judgment to the individual doctors — that is, a policy statement that Congress should stay out of it. After they deliberated in October 1996, the task force forwarded its draft statement to the ACOG board. It was only then that Kagan stepped in to suggest changes.

Therefore, any suggestion that her work was merely the synthesis of the task force’s deliberations doesn’t account for that time line — she had no interaction with the task force itself, only the executive board of ACOG.

Second and more significant, the White House had already met with ACOG’s former president and current chief lobbyist (to whom Kagan’s revisions were addressed) in June 1996, before the special task force was even formed. At that meeting (which apparently Kagan did not attend but recounted in a memo to her bosses, dated June 22, 1996), Kagan wrote that the White House staffers were basically told that ACOG couldn’t identify any particular circumstances where the procedure was medically necessary.

Coffin quotes from the relevant memo that makes this even more clear.  Perhaps another Republican on the panel will pick this up where Hatch left off.

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Blockbuster’s in house counsel are all pretty excellent. Maybe Hooters?

LASue on June 30, 2010 at 3:02 PM

He is a big enough boob.

Aviator on June 30, 2010 at 4:36 PM

We are in dangerous times .A socialist radical in the white house stacking the court with like minded people.The house and senate filled with socialist radicals and a bunch of so called Republican so scared to do or say anything. In fear that the NYT and washington post will say bad thing about them and they intern will not be invited to D.C. parties.For once in their live i wish the Rep would just stand up and tell the american people what Kagan is.Then do everything in their power to stop this nomination even the filibuster.God help us.

thmcbb on June 30, 2010 at 5:02 PM

ACOG? isn’t that the company that was making the rifle sights with the semi-religious serial numbers that had the lefties all atwitter?

damn acronyms. so confusing.

warhorse_03826 on June 30, 2010 at 5:31 PM

Don’t confirm her,she’s ugly…and stupid.
Confirm me…I’m ugly and stupid.

DDT on June 30, 2010 at 5:31 PM

Oops,I meant I’m stupid and ugly.You have to understand the nuance.

DDT on June 30, 2010 at 5:44 PM

“Yes, well, I’ve seen the document — ”

“But did you write it?”

“The document is certainly in my handwriting.”

You have got to be kidding me.

Jaibones on June 30, 2010 at 7:25 PM

“The document is certainly in my handwriting.”

… but I am very hazy about what was going on, it was the Clinton Administration after all.

… but there was a hypnotist on staff…

… but it was that time of the month, you know?

… but I was just making sure that the document completely agreed with what I thought I heard the voices in my head telling me.

… but there is a statute of limitations on ethics violations, right?

… but ethics are for ‘little people’ *wink, wink*

… but I have a Jekyll/Hyde thing going on so that could have been written by Alan Kagan.

… but I have an evil twin with just the same handwriting, so I’m never sure.

… but they all agreed to it as I tried to wake them up after the 10th round of drinks…

… but I’m a doctor, just not a ‘doctor’ doctor, so everything’s fine.

ajacksonian on June 30, 2010 at 7:57 PM

Justices go back tothe root documents of the country. Those documents suppor the people. This woman does not support any of that. She wants to refer to current laws BUT current laws were derived from the original documents of our forfathers. She doesnt get it and needs to get it else do not put her in a justice slot. Disaster is all I can think of.

johnnyU on June 30, 2010 at 8:31 PM

What are the Chances Kevin James will make an appearance on SNL this week?

I can hope.

rosewaning on June 30, 2010 at 8:36 PM

She’s an unusually good Liar.

Del Dolemonte on June 30, 2010 at 9:07 PM

Our first sociopath on the USSC. Smiling and lying and falsifying reports to justify the heinous “procedure”.
I’m glad she has no children.

clnurnberg on June 30, 2010 at 9:41 PM

I decided she wasn’t qualified when she was asked if the government could tell you what food you have to eat and she couldn’t say yes or no.

free on June 30, 2010 at 10:56 PM

“Yes, well, I’ve seen the document — ”

“But did you write it?”

“The document is certainly in my handwriting.”

You have got to be kidding me.

Jaibones on June 30, 2010 at 7:25 PM

That depends on what the meaning of “kidding” is.

scotash on July 1, 2010 at 1:44 AM

Without a single shot being fired these ba*tards are taking our freedom. Think about it. Lawyers have evolved enough to just walk in and take our country or at the very least dictate what you and I can and can’t do without being a criminal. You mean if we eat the wrong thing, we are going to be breakin the law? Has it come to that? This is chance to not vote this, so called Obama Clone into a lifetime (not 4 year) office. Obama is indeed accomplishing everything he’s setting out to do. There are enough people in power to stop it and they are not. Also people like Colon Powell (mispelled intentionally) say one person can;t possible mess up a country, well… one person can accomplish a hell of a lot and he is messing up a country. One person can indeed change things. He’s doing it. This damage will go to the core of our country’s founding, The Constitution. I will NOT be flying my flag this weekend. If I do it will be upside down but I’ prefer to just not fly it at all. I am not proud of this country or where it is going at this moment in time.

johnnyU on July 1, 2010 at 7:16 AM

The choice of this woman as a supreme court justice only provides further proof of B. Hussien Obamas incompetence.

TrickyDick on July 1, 2010 at 8:30 AM

Kagen: “Well it is my handwriting, but that doesn’t mean I actually wrote it.” Wow, she’ll be a great justice. And they all went nuts when Bush nominated Harriet Myers. Go figure.

Wills on July 1, 2010 at 9:31 AM

Attorneys on HotAir; What are the rules on introducing evidence you know to be false?

She should be disbarred.

barnone on June 30, 2010 at 1:49 PM

I suppose it really depends upon what your definition of false is.
After all, Clinton certainly had alternate meanings for things.
Perhaps she learned from the best while under his wing.

And BTW-this bi@#c is in this nominating situation bcs of all the pukes who stayed home by ‘protest’ voting bcs of McCain’s nomination.
I held my nose & voted for him bcs I did not want to see this happen & I warned everyone I know about this happening & how they needed to vote for McCain anyway.
I will take the lesser of 2 evils anytime.

And someone tell me here, what exactly has this woman done to be on the SCOTUS?
Has she been a judge deciding important cases?
Has she ever practiced in an important law firm?
Republican Congress members, you better reach down into your
souls on this one & do a filibuster.
Bcs if she gets confirmed, our rights, which have already been eroded away due to liberal SCOTUS appointees, will be eroded faster than you can count to 10 if this insane creature gets confirmed.

Badger40 on July 1, 2010 at 10:09 AM

She’s already proven herself a liar. Further questioning will simply demonstrate how accomplished she is at it. From this point on, these hearings are purposeless.

I can’t recall another SC nominee so clearly caught out in a lie. This will end badly.

theCork on July 1, 2010 at 11:10 AM