WASHINGTON – As a Clinton White House aide, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan called herself one of the Clinton administration’s biggest fans of a law to protect religious freedom but warned then-Vice President Al Gore against endorsing it for fear of creating “a gay/lesbian firestorm.”
In a 1999 e-mail, Kagan said the White House was meeting with religious and gay groups to try to smooth over their differences on the matter.
“We’ll let you know as soon as it’s safe to go back in the water,” she wrote to Ron Klain, who was Gore’s chief of staff.
The missive was one of tens of thousands of pages of Kagan’s e-mails released Friday.
The e-mails portray Kagan as a driven and highly opinionated person who has a flair for political tactics and little tolerance for high-flying rhetoric.
At the beginning of her stint as a domestic policy aide, Kagan described her management style to a colleague: “I want to be kept generally up to speed on everything. Thanks.”
Later that year, she suggested transforming what was supposed to be a routine literacy event at a Maryland school into a chance to score points against the Republican Congress. At the time, administration was pushing for a national standardized test to measure student progress.
“We are in a fight for our lives on the testing initiative,” Kagan wrote. “We cannot waste Sept. 8 on a sweetness-and-light literacy event. We’re all going to have to work together to make this problem disappear.”
The e-mails were part of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library’s final release of documents related to Kagan’s service as a policy aide and White House counsel. The Senate Judiciary Committee requested them in preparation for its hearings on Kagan’s nomination.