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.”