House GOP probing Justice Kagan's role in healthcare law defense

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has asked for documents from the Obama administration in an effort to discover whether Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan helped develop a legal defense for the healthcare law. 

Smith's request is a response to a June request from 49 Republicans that Kagan's role in the healthcare law be examined by the committee. On Friday, Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) went further by implying that Kagan might have to recuse herself from any court cases that relate to the healthcare law.

"It is imperative for Americans to have confidence in the impartiality of the Supreme Court," Fleming said. "Americans have a legitimate right to know the truth about Elena Kagan's involvement in ObamaCare. How can any reasonable person believe that she can be impartial when a case involving ObamaCare comes before the high court?"

A number of legal challenges to healthcare reform have been filed in lower courts, and the Supreme Court is expected to take up one of the cases in the years ahead.

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Smith did not argue in his Wednesday letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that Kagan should recuse herself from the case. However, he did ask for "relevant documents and witness interviews" in order to understand Kagan's involvement in the healthcare legislation while she was U.S. solicitor general.

Smith said that, based on documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, new questions have been raised about Kagan's involvement with the law, as well as questions about whether her ties should "disqualify her from hearing challenges to its constitutionality."

Smith's letter asked for the documents by July 29. A spokesperson for Smith said the Committee has not yet launched a formal investigation.


—This story was updated at 12:00 p.m. to stress that Smith has not asked for Kagan to recuse herself from Supreme Court cases involving the healthcare law.