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Political Notebook

Views won't taint analysis of federal law, Kagan says

February 11, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Harvard Law dean Elena Kagan, President Obama's choice to be the federal government's top lawyer at the US Supreme Court, told a Senate committee yesterday she would defend the constitutionality of federal statutes even when she disagreed with them.

Kagan said that, had she been solicitor general, she would have defended a government policy penalizing universities that didn't provide equal access to military recruiters. As dean of Harvard Law, Kagan joined a challenge to the policy - and lost a unanimous Supreme Court decision in 2006.

"There's a clear obligation on the part of the solicitor general to defend the statute in that circumstance unless there's no reasonable basis to argue for the statute," she told the Senate Judiciary Committee. With the military recruitment policy, "of course there was a reasonable basis," she said. "My gosh, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0."

The approach pledged by Kagan would continue a tradition at the solicitor general's office, a part of the Justice Department that enjoys a measure of independence from the White House and its policy preferences.

BLOOMBERG NEWS

Senate postpones vote on Pentagon nominee
WASHINGTON - The Senate postponed until at least today a vote on William Lynn III's Pentagon appointment because of questions raised by an unidentified Republican senator, the latest delay for President Obama's plan to name a former lobbyist as deputy defense secretary.

It was unclear whether the objection was tied to Lynn's lobbying work until last year at Waltham-based defense contractor Raytheon, which forced the White House to grant a waiver from Obama's own ethics rules.

The Senate had been poised to vote this week, after an endorsement by the Senate Armed Services Committee and announcements from Republican Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and John McCain of Arizona, who had both raised questions about Lynn, that they would not block the nomination.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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