HRC Blog

Kagan Hearing to Begin in One Week

As part of the confirmation process to become the next Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court, Elena Kagan will sit before the Senate Judiciary Committee one week from today to begin several days of intense questioning on her judicial philosophy and professional record. The confirmation hearing will provide Kagan with a forum to show the American public what type of Supreme Court Justice she could be. Since the President’s announcement that he was nominating Kagan on May 10, 2010, Kagan has participated in a series of private meetings with senators to discuss her qualifications. She has met with senators on both sides of the aisle, including Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) of the Senate Judiciary Committee. During one meeting with Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), Kagan had the chance to discuss her decision as Dean of Harvard Law School to not make an exception to the law school’s LGBT inclusive non-discrimination policy for military recruiters. While Kagan’s decision is often framed by her opponents as an anti-military act, Senator Brown said he was pleased with her explanation of her decision, and confirmed that Kagan “is supportive of the men and women who are fighting to protect us and very supportive of the military as a whole.” Only eight days after the President’s announcement of Kagan’s nomination, Kagan responded to a questionnaire from the Senate Judiciary Committee with over 200 pages of written responses and over 6,000 pages of attachments. In addition, over the course of the last six weeks, the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library has produced over 160,000 pages of materials from Kagan’s tenure in the Clinton White House. HRC legal staff, in a combined effort with Lambda Legal, is reviewing each of these documents. This review has revealed that Kagan was aware of and played a key role in White House efforts that affected LGBT Americans in the late 1990’s. Certainly, over the last few weeks, Kagan has been deeply entrenched in preparation for responding to questions during her confirmation hearing. During this preparation process, as described by Bill Burck, former White House deputy counsel under President George W. Bush:

...the nominee spends 100 percent of their time—110 percent, really—preparing. They re-read everything that they've written—everything from what they wrote in high school to what they wrote yesterday—and they think about all the major issues that are confronting the Supreme Court today. Then the White House generally will find a group of people drawn from the White House, the Department of Justice, other parts of the executive branch, outside lawyers, academics who will then start quizzing the nominee in the murder boards. Generally, there are several different rounds of the murder boards that culminate in either one or two or more formal settings where people who are participating pretend to be members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and will then each have a role as chairman, the ranking member, etc.

Stay tuned this week for more on Kagan’s nomination. This is the first in a series of blogs that will address Kagan and her nomination to the Supreme Court. Learn more about federal judicial nominations and follow our work on these crucial issues on HRC’s Equality in the Courts page. Partial Contribution by Jessica Singleton, Legal Assistant.

comments powered by Disqus