updated 5/24/2010 4:18:08 PM ET 2010-05-24T20:18:08

The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee warned Monday that he would seek to slow Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's path to confirmation unless senators get full access to her files as a Clinton administration aide.

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"We're heading to what could be a train wreck," Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said. "I don't believe that this committee can go forward with an adequate hearing" without all records from Kagan's tenure as a White House counsel and then domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the Judiciary Committee chairman, last week set hearings to begin on June 28. Sessions said Republicans would ask for a delay unless senators get access to the tens of thousands of pages of Clinton-era records by then.

Sessions doesn't have a veto over the hearing schedule, but his threat set the stage for a potential partisan showdown over the documents and the pace of Kagan's confirmation process.

Kagan, 50, is President Barack Obama's choice to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Obama named her two weeks ago and asked that the Senate confirm her in time for her to join the court at the start of its new session this fall. Leahy's hearing date would meet that timetable, paving the way for a vote in the full Senate before its monthlong August vacation.

The nation's archivist told Leahy and Sessions in a letter last week that his staff would begin releasing the documents, which are held at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., by June 4 and try to accommodate the panel's June 28 deadline.

Obama has said he won't seek to block release of the documents by claiming executive privilege.

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