Letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell on Elena Kagan's record on campaign finance

May 19, 2010

Dear Senator McConnell,

When President Obama nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan earlier this month as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, you congratulated her and pledged that "Senate Republicans will treat Ms. Kagan fairly." Common Cause welcomed your assurance of fairness and looked forward to a civil discussion about General Kagan's record, particularly at a time when much of the rhetoric around recent judicial nominations has become so heated.

Over the past several weeks, however, we are puzzled by a number of your statements about General Kagan's record as an advocate. Most especially, you recently said in a Senate floor speech that it is the "position of the Solicitor General and her office" that the federal government has the power to "ban books." Regretfully, this sort of inflammatory language grossly misrepresents General Kagan's position and is at odds with your pledge to treat the Solicitor General fairly.

Common Cause is committed to transparency and openness in government. One of our core issues is money in politics, and we followed the Citizens United litigation carefully. General Kagan argued on behalf of the government to uphold bipartisan campaign finance reform laws and to oppose unlimited corporate spending in elections. General Kagan explicitly argued to the Court that "nobody in Congress, nobody in the administrative apparatus has ever suggested that books pose any kind of corruption problem." Furthermore, to bolster her assertion, General Kagan correctly explained that the Federal Election Commission had never attempted to ban books, and if it ever tried, it was not likely to survive a constitutional challenge. General Kagan sought to defend the right of everyday citizens to make their voices heard without opening the floodgates to unlimited corporate money in our elections. She never stated that the federal government may engage in book banning.

Words matter, Senator McConnell. Your statements about book banning distort the discussion and distract from a thorough review of her qualifications. Common Cause urges you to refrain from this sort of inflammatory discussion in the future, and to return to your pledge of fair treatment.


Bob Edgar

President and CEO

Common Cause

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