CBS: Memos Show Kagan ‘Stood Shoulder to Shoulder with the Liberal Left’

On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Jan Crawford filed a report recounting revelations that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has a history of taking solidly liberal positions on issues like abortion, gay rights, and gun control – with evidence in the form of memos, some going back to her days working for liberal Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Crawford: "Documents buried in Thurgood Marshall's papers in the Library of Congress show that, as a young lawyer, Kagan stood shoulder to shoulder with the liberal left, including on the most controversial issue Supreme Court nominees ever confront: abortion."

The CBS correspondent informed viewers that Kagan had fretted about conservatives restricting abortion rights: "In a case involving a prisoner who wanted the state to pay for her to have the procedure, Kagan writes to Marshall that the conservative-leaning court could use the case to rule against the woman and ‘create some very bad law on abortion.’"

Notably, on Monday, May 10, as the broadcast network evening newscasts introduced Kagan to their viewers, only CBS referred to her liberal ideology, as Crawford asserted: "Her career has put her solidly on the left."

In addition to having suggested that she sees a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, Kagan had also admitted that "I’m not sympathetic" to a lawsuit challenging the D.C. gun ban as unconstitutional. Crawford: "A recently disclosed memo on gun rights, in a case challenging the District of Columbia's handgun ban as unconstitutional, Kagan was blunt: ‘I'm not sympathetic.’"

Crawford predicted that the revelations would have a significant impact on her confirmation hearings: "Taken together, these documents will be much harder for her to explain away than other less controversial papers unearthed before her confirmation hearings for solicitor general. ... But the documents seem to show that Kagan had some pretty strong legal views of her own, and, while that may encourage liberals, it's going to give Republicans a lot more ammunition to fight against her."

Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Thursday, June 3, CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: The Senate is scheduled to begin confirmation hearings at the end of this month for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. Kagan has never been a judge, but she did clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. And in this exclusive report, chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford tells us she does have a paper trail.

JAN CRAWFORD: Elena Kagan has kept her cards so close to the vest that some on the left have worried she's too moderate.

ELENA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Everybody's treated me very well.

CRAWFORD: But documents buried in Thurgood Marshall's papers in the Library of Congress show that, as a young lawyer, Kagan stood shoulder to shoulder with the liberal left, including on the most controversial issue Supreme Court nominees ever confront: abortion.

CLIP OF PROTESTERS: Abortion's got to go!

CRAWFORD: In a case involving a prisoner who wanted the state to pay for her to have the procedure, Kagan writes to Marshall that the conservative-leaning court could use the case to rule against the woman and "create some very bad law on abortion." She expressed strong views in a school desegregation case, calling a school busing plan "amazingly sensible." She said state court decisions upholding the plan recognized the "good sense and fair mindedness" of local efforts adding, "Let's hope this court takes not of the same." Kagan also wrote a memo Republicans will use to say she found a constitutional right to gay marriage. That case involved a man who said the state of New York was required to recognize his marriage in Kansas, even though it was illegal in New York. Kagan told Marshall his position was "arguably correct." And then, a recently disclosed memo on gun rights, in a case challenging the District of Columbia's handgun ban as unconstitutional, Kagan was blunt: "I'm not sympathetic." Taken together, these documents will be much harder for her to explain away than other less controversial papers unearthed before her confirmation hearings for solicitor general. At the time, she said:

KAGAN, DATED FEBRUARY 10, 2009: I was a 27-year-old pipsqueak, and I was working for an 80-year-old giant in the law, and a person who, let us be frank, had very strong jurisprudential and legal views.

CRAWFORD: But the documents seem to show that Kagan had some pretty strong legal views of her own, and, while that may encourage liberals, it's going to give Republicans a lot more ammunition to fight against her.