Another Kagan Tea Leaf re: Religion

Posted on May 12, 2010 In Blog

We noted yesterday Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s repudiation of the “strict separation” of church and state view that religious institutions can never receive federal funds – she called that perspective “the dumbest thing”…

Today (h/t Ben Smith) the Clinton Presidential Library started posting memos Elena Kagan wrote while serving in that Administration as a senior policy aide.
The Clinton years were precisely when the effort to expand federal partnerships with faith-based social welfare entities really got going – in the context of the big Welfare Reform legislation which contained the first “charitable choice” provision sponsored by then-Senator John Ashcroft.

Opponents of this effort got some support from the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) – which sought to amend Ashcroft’s language in a bill making “technical corrections” to the Welfare Reform statute, but that change was not included and enacted.

In a handwritten note on a US News article, Elena Kagan notes to White House domestic policy director Bruce Reed that the DOJ amendment didn’t “make it” and “HHS isn’t arguing” that the charitable choice provision is a problem. “Neither am I”, Kagan writes, arguing it is a problem… “but, we may not have heard the last of this…”

So, it may be inferred that Kagan backed away from the extreme, “strict separation” view well before her confirmation hearing last year – when she was in the Clinton White House.

Our friends who continue to hold fast to the “strict separation” view and oppose faith-based initiatives “don’t know what to make of” Kagan’s views which are at odds to theirs.