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Judiciary Republicans Require Clinton Papers Before Kagan Hearings

Senate Republicans rallied Tuesday around a demand by the Judiciary Committee ranking member that thousands of pages of Clinton-era documents be released before hearings begin on Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination.

Ranking member Jeff Sessions (Ala.) had warned in a floor speech Monday that, given Kagan’s lack of judicial experience or a public paper trail, the release of the documents by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library will be a GOP prerequisite for the hearings, which are scheduled for the week of June 28.

Although the White House has requested an expedited release of the documents from Kagan’s time in the Clinton administration, the library has indicated that it may have difficulty and that the first round of documents will not be released until June.

“The public record of a nominee to such a lifetime position as justice on the Supreme Court is of such importance that we cannot go forward without these documents,” Sessions said. “I hope we will get those in a timely fashion. If not, I think we will have no choice but to ask for a delay in the beginning of the hearings.”

Although Senate Republicans have largely been slow to attack Kagan, GOP members of the Judiciary Committee made clear they would back Sessions if he decides to push for a delay to the hearings.

“If we can get them in time to review them thoroughly and prepare for the testimony of Solicitor General Kagan, than there’s no need to delay the hearing,” said Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), a member of the committee. “But if we can’t, then clearly it would be inappropriate to have a hearing prematurely. You’d probably have to have a second hearing.”

Similarly, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that the documents are of particular importance because of Kagan’s lack of judicial experience, adding that committee Republicans would support a delay if Sessions seeks one.

“In this case it is a pretty big issue, because it may be some of the best evidence” on how Kagan will approach the bench, Graham said. “I think we would not hesitate to ask for more time” if the documents are not available before the hearings, he added.

Jessica Brady contributed to this report.

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