Sen. McConnell’s book banning comments inflammatory and inaccurate

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  • Dale Eisman

Washington, DC– After promising that Senate Republicans would fairly review Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s record and qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell has injected inflammatory and inaccurate characterizations about that record into the debate on Kagan’s confirmation, Common Cause President Bob Edgar said today.

In a letter to Sen. McConnell, Edgar urged the Kentucky Republican to back away from claims that Kagan believes the federal government has authority to “ban books.” The attack “grossly misrepresents General Kagan’s position and is at odds with your pledge to treat the Solicitor General fairly,” Edgar wrote.

In fact, Kagan made exactly the opposite argument during an appearance last year before the Supreme Court, Edgar added.

McConnell’s attack came during a speech on the Senate floor and grows out of arguments Kagan and a deputy made as the high court was considering a lawsuit challenging federal campaign finance laws. The court’s ruling in the Citizens United suit overturned sensible, decades-old restrictions on corporate and union spending on political campaigns.

In response to questions from the justices, “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,” Edgar wrote. She also “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 that the federal government may engage in book banning.”

The role of money in politics is one of Common Cause’s key concerns; to shift power from big corporate and union donations to individual citizens, Common Cause is pressing for Congressional approval of the Fair Elections Now Act. The legislation would replace the flow of special interest money into campaigns with a mix of small, individual contributions and public funds raised through a fee on major government contractors.

Click here to read the full letter.