National Review’s Robert VerBruggen has spent some time perusing the documentation that the Clinton presidential library has been willing to release on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. While President Barack Obama casts Kagan as a moderate and an independent thinker, a couple of documents show Kagan as so hostile to the NRA and its advocacy for gun rights that she compared them at least once and perhaps twice to the KKK:
National Review has learned that in 1996, Kagan apparently tied the NRA to the KKK — yes, the KKK — while debating the Clinton administration’s position on a bill.
The bill in question was the Volunteer Protection Act, which, when it was passed and signed the following year, protected some non-profits’ volunteer workers from tort liability in certain cases. The administration worried that it would apply to volunteers from unlikable non-profits.
Two documents discovered at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and obtained byNational Review suggest that Kagan was involved in these discussions. One does not contain her name, but the handwriting appears to be hers. (You can see an example of Kagan’s handwriting here.) It has the name of administration colleague Fran Allegra at the top, and lists two “Bad guy orgs” that might be covered — the NRA and the KKK.
The second does have Kagan’s name on it; it is a memo from Allegra to Kagan. Allegra reports that he checked the IRS’s “Cumulative List of Organizations Described in Section 170(c)” — the list of tax-exempt organizations, which, he says, are the only organizations the bill would cover — and that neither the NRA nor the KKK was on it. “If you have other names you want me to run down in the Cumulative List, I would be glad to check them out,” he adds, suggesting that Kagan requested the initial check of the NRA and the KKK.
This comes out at an interesting point in time. Nancy Pelosi reached an accommodation with the NRA on the DISCLOSE Act, one that ended up torpedoing its chance at passage, at least for the moment. Kagan’s comparison suggests that Pelosi’s deal would have been tantamount to dealing with “bad guys” like the KKK, a domestic terror organization aimed at ethnic and religious minorities, primarily African-Americans.
If this is what passes for mainstream thought in the Obama administration (and for that matter in the Clinton administration), then … well, I can’t say I’m terribly shocked. When candidates like Obama run on class-warrior platforms, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to find that impulse to demonize people isn’t just bounded by income or wealth levels. Putting the NRA, a peaceful and law-abiding organization that defends the political and legal interests of gun owners in exercising a Constitutional right, in the same league as the Klan shows a judgment that is not mainstream or properly tempered, but extremist and hyperbolic.
That’s not the kind of thinking that we need on the Supreme Court, and not the kind of nominee Obama represented Kagan to be. Her confirmation may be all but assured at this point, but hopefully the Judiciary Committee will press Kagan hard on this issue. Clearly, the efforts to close the Clinton library to the committee are intended to hide evidence like this, and the committee should balk at taking a vote until all of the documentation from the Clinton administration has been released and reviewed in detail.