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.