Nothing too exciting here — as you’ll see, she did it for purely political reasons — but it’s bound to have some on the left breathing into paper bags, which is reason enough to push it out there. (Remember, Diane Wood, who was passed over for Kagan, is esteemed by liberals as an abortion warrior.) Since we’re looking for any scrap of insight into Kagan’s thinking, however trivial or unrepresentative, how about this as a sign that she’ll try to join the conservative majority on the Court occasionally if she thinks doing so will convince them to water down their opinion?
Documents reviewed Monday by The Associated Press show Kagan encouraging Clinton to support a bill that would have banned all abortions of viable fetuses except when the physical health of the mother was at risk. The documents from Clinton’s presidential library are among the first to surface in which Kagan weighs in the thorny issue of abortion.
The abortion proposal was a compromise by Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle. Clinton supported it, but the proposal failed and Clinton vetoed a stricter Republican ban.
In a May 13, 1997, memo from the White House domestic policy office, Kagan and her boss, Bruce Reed, told Clinton that abortion rights groups opposed Daschle’s compromise. But they urged the president to support it, saying he otherwise risked seeing a Republican-led Congress override his veto on the stricter bill…
The memo noted that another White House adviser, Rahm Emmanuel, also supported the idea.
She also advised Clinton to support a bill banning human cloning. (Why does Elena Kagan hate reproductive rights?) A tough question for Republican Senators who are on the fence about her: If the left’s criticisms gain traction with Democrats and it looks like the nomination might fail, should the GOP bite the bullet and push her through? The One’s game in touting Wood and Merrick Garland as other short-listers clearly was to frame Kagan as a moderate choice. Garland was the most centrist of the three and Wood the furthest left; the idea is that both liberals and conservatives should grudgingly accept Kagan since, if she’s Borked, no one knows whether Obama will move left or right on the next nominee. My question, essentially, is which way do we think he would go if Kagan was torpedoed? My guess is that he’d move left and nominate Wood: Although an abortion battle just before the midterms is risky, he could count on it to psych up his base. If he nominated Garland, he’d leave Senate Democrats in a bind. If they reject him on grounds that he’s too far towards the center, then Obama’s humiliated twice over and it looks like the Dems can’t govern; if they rubber stamp him, the base is outraged and suddenly they’ve got a turnout problem. All of which means for the GOP that Obama’s likely to tack further left with the next pick. Reason enough to give Kagan the benefit of the doubt unless some sort of bombshell drops?