Elena Kagan, And More Heartburn For Liberal Groups

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 11, 2010


Okay, I get that the following argument was made by Kagan in her role as an attorney, with political considerations in mind. Still, tell me that liberals won’t get at least slightly apoplectic over this:

In the hours after President Obama introduced Elena Kagan as his choice for the Supreme Court, there was little talk about her position on abortion, an issue that has faded from the political forefront during the past year’s economic crises.

But Kagan’s take on Roe V. Wade could become a sleeper issue during the next six weeks, as activists on both the left and the right seek to better understand how the solicitor general might rule on a right to privacy if she is confirmed to the court.

The answer to that question got a little bit clearer late Monday afternoon as the Associated Press reported on what it said was a 1997 memorandum authored by Kagan during the time she advised then-President Bill Clinton.

According to the AP, the May 13, 1997, memo shows Kagan arguing that Clinton should support a compromise ban on late-term abortions as a way of avoiding a congressional override of his veto on a more restrictive, Republican bill. The compromise bill had been authored by then-Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.)

“We recommend that you endorse the Daschle amendment in order to sustain your credibility on HR 1122 and prevent Congress from overriding your veto,” Kagan and her boss, Bruce Reed, wrote, according to the AP.

And it appears that in some quarters, the apoplexy may have commenced, though to be fair, it is being covered up pretty well:

But the 1997 memorandum may give further rise to the concerns already expressed on Monday by liberal groups, who fear that the lack of evidence of Kagan’s strong support for abortion rights throughout her career suggests that she will not be an advocate for their cause on the court.

In a cautious statement issued shortly after Kagan’s nomination, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, wrote that “We call on the Senate to give Solicitor General Kagan a fair hearing and look forward to learning more about her views on the right to privacy and the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.”

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