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White House Asks Clinton Library to Release Kagan Papers

Elena Kagan

This Sept. 11, 2009 photo released by the Harvard University Law School shows U.S. Solicitor General and former Dean of Harvard Law School Elena Kagan listening to law professor Charles Fried, left, alongside law professor John F. Manning, right, on the university campus in Cambridge, Mass.AP

WASHINGTON -- The White House on Saturday asked Bill Clinton's presidential library to speed the release of more than 160,000 pages of paper, including e-mail, in its possession from Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's tenure as a Clinton adviser in the 1990s.

In a letter to the U.S. archivist, White House counsel Bob Bauer said he was requesting the expedited release to aid the Senate's review of Kagan's nomination. Kagan currently is the U.S. solicitor general.

Kagan has never been a judge and has only appeared in court as a litigant since becoming solicitor general, the top lawyer representing the administration in cases before the Supreme Court. As a result, she has not created a lengthy paper trail of court opinions and legal briefs that lawmakers typically examine to assess a nominee's legal acumen or ideology.

Republican lawmakers seeking clues about what kind of justice Kagan, 50, would be are eager to see the papers, hoping to find material they could use to fuel the opposition to her nomination.

With its request Saturday, the White House was doing its part to ensure a thorough and timely confirmation process, one that Obama and his advisers hope will conclude with a black-robed Kagan joining the high court in time for the new term that begins in October.

The Clinton library, run by the National Archives, was expected to release Kagan's papers this summer.

Kagan, an aide to Clinton from 1995-1999, would succeed retiring liberal Justice John Paul Stevens.

Bauer requested records from her service as an associate counsel, approximately 30,000 pages; records from her service as a domestic policy adviser, approximately 50,000 pages; and records related to her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The Senate never acted on that nomination.

Bauer also requested all e-mail Kagan sent and received, approximately 79,000 pages.

Of the documents, Bauer wrote that "their availability, on an expedited schedule, is necessary to afford the Senate a reasonable opportunity to evaluate Ms. Kagan's nomination."

The archives has released some Clinton-era documents related to Kagan.

In a 1997 memo from Kagan and her immediate boss, domestic policy adviser Bruce Reed, Kagan urged Clinton to support a ban on late-term abortions, a political compromise that put his administration at odds with abortion-rights groups. Clinton's library released papers from Reed's files this week.

Republican critics have made it clear that they intend to question Kagan about her limited legal resume, her decision as dean of Harvard Law School to bar military recruiters from campus and her ability to rule objectively in cases involving the Obama administration.

Last year, Clinton's library released more than 5,000 papers from Sonia Sotomayor prior to the Senate vote confirming her nomination by Obama to the Supreme Court.