Kagan: White House Called a Month Before Stevens Announced Retirement

Kagan lists pages of academic writings and speeches she has given over the years and reveals that she recused herself from three district court cases involving warrants to unseal wiretap and search warrants pertaining to former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, "because of my personal friendship" with Spitzer, a classmate of here at Princeton and Harvard Law School.

Today is the third time Kagan has submitted a questionnaire to the Senate Judiciary Committee detailing her personal and professional history. She submitted her first questionnaire in 1999 after President Clinton nominated her to a seat on the federal bench, but the nomination was blocked by Senate Republicans. Last year, she filled out a similar questionnaire after President Obama named her as the country's first female solicitor general.

Each questionnaire is different depending on the job sought and the candidate's professional background. The questions are negotiated between the majority and minority committee members who decided at the beginning of this Congress no longer to ask a candidate his or her marital status. The Committee has also dropped a question regarding health status.

The lengthy questionnaires -- which can force judicial nominees to dig through years of files and mountains of information -- are a familiar rite of passage that can pose hurdles to landing a spot on the bench.

Senate Questionnaire a Rite of Passage for Nominees

In 2005, Harriet Miers, President George W. Bush's first nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, was famously blasted for "incomplete" and unspecific responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire. She withdrew from the process before supplementing her answers.

More recently, President Obama's federal appeals court nominee Goodwin Liu sparked a frenzy on Capitol Hill after he failed to provide a complete record of his speeches and writings.

"At best, this nominee's extraordinary disregard for the Committee's constitutional role demonstrates incompetence; at worse, it creates the impression that he knowingly attempted to hide his most controversial work from the Committee," wrote Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, the ranking GOP member at the time.

Liu later apologized to the committee and reiterated his intention to be transparent.

Kagan's questionnaires, past and present, do provide a glimpse of who she is outside of her public resume.

In 1999 Kagan was asked about her health, which she reported to be "excellent" despite a minor thyroid problem, two benign breast biopsies and a deviated septum.

Her politics are sprinkled throughout her questionnaires. She reveals that she once worked for the Michael Dukakis 1988 presidential campaign, preparing responses to attacks on his record. She outlines at length the work she did in the Clinton administration from 1995-1999.

"Among the issues to which I devoted the most time were welfare reform and campaign finance reform. I also provided constitutional advice, in a variety of contexts, on these and other issues, including separation of powers, governmental privileges, freedom of speech , and church-state relations. One of the projects to which I devoted substantial time was a set of guidelines issued by the President on religious exercise and expression in the federal workplace."

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