Clinton Library Releases 170,000 Pages of Kagan Records

On June 21, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library opened a final batch of 1,750 pages of files relating to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s tenure at the White House Domestic Policy Council and the White House Counsel’s Office. The Clinton Library has released approximately 170,000 pages since the initial request for Kagan’s records was made in a May 18, 2010, letter from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero.

According to Senator Leahy’s office, the National Archives and the Clinton Library produced “an unprecedented volume of materials” about Elena Kagan’s record – and faster – than for any previous Supreme Court nominee. NARA also produced more documents about Elena Kagan’s work in the executive branch than were produced for either the Roberts or Alito Supreme Court nominations.

Despite the release of the large volume of documents, Ranking Member Sessions (R-AL) continues to complain that not all of Kagan’s records have been released due to privacy concerns. However, Senator Leahy stated, “I’m not willing to accept that these professional archivists are biased,” with regards to determining violations of privacy in the records.

Ironically, Sessions has been identified as the Senator who placed a hold blocking Senate floor consideration for over a year of the Presidential Records Reform Act (H.R. 35), which would streamline the release of presidential records. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House in January 2009, and cleared the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in May 2009. On June 8, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman issued a statement urging Senator Sessions to lift his hold on the bill.

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