Entries in Elena Kagan (3)


Kagan on Health Care in '09-'10: ‘They Have the Votes!! Simply Amazing’

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- She’s now a Supreme Court Justice who could hear arguments in March about the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature legislation, the health care law. That is, if she doesn't recuse herself first: and critics say her email history proves she should do just that.

But in 2009 and 2010, Justice Elena Kagan was President Obama’s solicitor general. And in emails from that time that were recently obtained by conservative government watchdog Judicial Watch, Kagan is clearly pleased with the passage of the bill.

Most notably, in a March 21, 2010 email to then-Senior Counselor for Access to Justice Laurence Tribe, Kagan writes, “I hear they have the votes Larry!! Simply amazing…”

Kagan is seen keeping close tabs on the legislation. In another exchange, deputy solicitor general Neal Katyal informs Kagan that “We just got Snowe on health care,” a reference to Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

She emails with David Barron, then-acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, about a Wall Street Journal op-ed discussing legislative strategy on “deeming” the health care bill into law.

During her confirmation hearings for the Court, Kagan told Congress she had never offered any views or comment regarding the merits of a challenge to the health care law brought by lawyers for Florida and several other States who believe the law is unconstitutional.

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton writes that “These new emails are bound to raise additional questions about whether Justice Kagan ought to participate in High Court deliberations on Obamacare. Certainly, if these documents were known at the time of her confirmation, there may have been quite a different senate debate. The Obama Justice Department dumped these documents just before a holiday weekend, hoping they would go unnoticed. This slow-walking of documents out of the Obama Justice Department is scandalous and makes one wonder what other information they are sitting on.”

White House officials had no comment. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lawmakers Call Justices Thomas, Kagan to Sit Out Health Care Case

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Chances are growing that the Supreme Court will take up the constitutionality of the 2010 health care law -- and with them, a political battle is brewing over whether some justices should recuse themselves from the case.

Seventy-four House Democrats, led by New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, sent a letter to Justice Clarence Thomas Wednesday calling on him to sit out deliberations on the Affordable Care Act because of his wife's ties to a lobbying group that opposes the health care law.

"The appearance of a conflict of interest merits recusal under federal law," the letter said.  "From what we have already seen, the line between your impartiality and you and your wife's financial stake in the overturn of healthcare reform is blurred."

Justice Thomas' wife, Virginia Thomas, started the conservative group Liberty Central, but stepped down in December amid controversy over a memo calling for the repeal of the "unconstitutional law."  The group, which later took down the memo from its site, blamed staff error and said it "assiduously avoids" taking positions on the constitutionality of issues.

Under federal law, justices have to recuse themselves from cases where they feel a conflict of interest may arise, or if their spouses have a financial stake, but the decision ultimately rests with each justice.

Critics aren't just pointing to Thomas for having a conflict of interest in a potential health care case.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has questioned the involvement of Justice Elena Kagan, a former member of President Obama's administration.

"I personally believe she should recuse herself.  I'm sure she participated in discussions at the White House.  Participated in discussions in the solicitor general's office.  These issues were brought up throughout the process," Hatch said on Fox News last week.  "That's going to be up to her what she does."

Kagan has recused herself from several cases since she was appointed to the Supreme Court last August.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court Begins New Term Monday; Cases Scheduled on Death Penalty, First Amendment

Photo Courtesy - Kathleen Dooher(WASHINGTON) -- Justice Elena Kagan will take the bench of the Supreme Court on Monday, joining her eight colleagues for the first day of arguments of the 2010 term.

The term's docket features a variety of issues related to the First Amendment, the death penalty, states' rights and prosecutorial misconduct, but the docket is overshadowed by what looms in the future: potential challenges to health care legislation, same-sex marriage and immigration reform. Those issues are currently working their way through the lower courts and could reach the Supreme Court next year or beyond.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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