WASHINGTON - Republicans hunting for clues about what kind of justice Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan would be said Tuesday they want to see papers from her time serving in the Clinton administration.
The focus on Clinton-era documents reflects the GOP's difficult task of turning up material that could power opposition to Kagan.
"It is a confirmation, it's not a coronation," said Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings on Kagan's nomination. "She's never been a judge. Never litigated cases except in the last few months as solicitor general. And so she lacks a good bit, frankly."
GOP leaders said that makes it even more important that they view documents she worked on while serving as an adviser for President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 1999. So far, it's been revealed that in 1997, Kagan urged Clinton to support a ban on late-term abortions, a political compromise criticized by abortion-rights groups.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defended Kagan, 50. She "has fresh ideas. She's been out in the real world recently," Reid (D-Nev.) said on the Senate floor. "I think she's going to be just a terrific addition to the Supreme Court."
Reid noted that former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a GOP nominee, came to the court without having first been a judge.
But GOP critics have already made clear they'll question Kagan about her limited legal resume, her decision as dean of the Harvard Law School to ban military recruiters from campus, and her ability to rule objectively on cases involving the Obama administration.
Kagan was approved as solicitor general on a 61-31 vote. None of the GOP senators who backed her then have committed to do so again.