Neither Sessions Nor Cornyn Directly Say Kagan's View on Abortion Will Cause Them to Vote Against Her

June 28, 2010 - 5:53 PM
While Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's paper trail indicates that she thinks abortion is a constitutional right, two top Republican senators would not say whether this would compel them to vote against her as the next associate justice of the court.
Elena Kagan

Solicitor General Elena Kagan is nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, May 10, 2010. (AP photo/Susan Walsh)

(CNSNews.com) – While Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s paper trail from her time as associate counsel in the Clinton White House indicates that she thinks abortion is a constitutional right, two top Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee would not say whether this would compel them to vote against her as the next associate justice of the court.
 
Sen.Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican on the committe, said on Monday that there are “big things at stake” in Kagan’s nomination, including the fundamental rights to free speech and gun ownership.

On Capitol Hill, CNSNews.com asked Sessions, “You just finished talking about those abortion views and it's pretty clear from those memos that she [Kagan] thinks there's a constitutional right to an abortion. Is that disqualifying, for you? Is that reason enough to vote against her?”
 

 
Sessions said, “Well, her approach to abortion is very troubling. I think the Supreme Court has been in error about its constitutional interpretation on those issues. And, so, it’s a negative to me if that’s her personal view, rather than just saying, ‘I accept the ruling of the court.’”

Sessions, at both the pre-hearing press conference and in his opening statement at the hearing, raised the issue of Kagan’s role in pressuring President Bill Clinton to veto (in 1996) the ban on partial-birth abortion.
 
“On the question of abortion, there’s no [doubt], it seems to be pretty clear in the documents, that she got Bill Clinton to change his mind,” said Sessions. “He was prepared to sign the partial-birth abortion ban that Congress had passed by a majority. He was prepared to sign it [but] she got him to change his mind and veto it.”
 
“She was the advocate for that and asked to maintain the abortion portfolio when she moved from the office of legal counsel to the [Domestic] Policy Office and was at the center of much of that discussion,” said Sessions.
 
CNSNews.com also asked Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), “Republicans have brought up her views on partial-birth abortion numerous times. It's pretty clear she thinks there's a constitutional right to an abortion. Is that disqualifying in your view? Would you vote against her?”
 

 
Cornyn said, “I think that’s the law of the land, under some circumstances. It’s a question of whether--when it’s not in the interest of the health of the mother--whether there is any protectable interest.
 
“But I think clearly her views have been, sort of, more as a political strategist, not as a legal matter, but I expect we’ll explore those,” said Cornyn.
 
When asked if there was anything that would cause him to vote against Kagan, Cornyn said, “I’m going to withhold judgment until we have a chance to ask questions and get answers.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)

“She was the advocate for that and asked to maintain the abortion portfolio when she moved from the Office of Legal Counsel to the [Domestic] Policy Office and was at the center of much of that discussion,” said Sessions.
 
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) also demurred when asked whether Kagan’s views on abortion were disqualifying. CNSNews.com noted that Republicans had raised Kagan’s views on partial-birth abortion many times and that it is clear form her written record that she thinks there is a constitutional right to abortion.
 
CNSNews.com then asked Cornyn, “Is that disqualifying in your view? Would you vote against her?”
 
Cornyn said, “I think that’s the law of the land, under some circumstances. I think it’s a question of--when it’s not in the interest of the health of the mother--whether there is any protectable interest there.”

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas)

“But I think clearly her views have been more as a political strategist than as a legal matter, but I expect we’ll explore those,” said Cornyn.
 
When asked whether there might be anything that would be disqualifying concerning Kagan, Cornyn said he would “withhold judgment” until after the hearings were finished.
 
“I’m going to withhold judgment until we have a chance to ask questions and get answers,” said Cornyn.