WASHINGTON – Two senior Republican senators criticized Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on Thursday for memos she wrote as a young law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall, saying the papers suggest she lets politics dictate her legal decisions.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Jeff Sessions of Alabama said the writings show that Kagan wanted to use the law to achieve specific policy results, rather than deciding legal questions on their merits.

“It indicates a developing lawyer who has a political bent to their legal work — pretty significantly so,” said Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee that will hold Kagan’s confirmation hearings.

The two senators cited notes Kagan wrote to Marshall in which she argued that the Supreme Court shouldn’t take certain cases based on her fear that they would give its conservative majority the chance to scale back abortion and criminal rights, among others.

In one, regarding a dispute over abortions for women jail inmates, she advised Marshall to vote to reject an appeal even though she had reservations about a federal appeals court ruling in favor of the inmates.

“This case is likely to become the vehicle this court uses to create some very bad law on abortions and/or prisoners’ rights,” Kagan said in an April 1988 memo.

Kyl called the memos “troubling.”

“They reveal time and time again an effort to reach a certain result in the case,” he said. “There’s a disturbing pattern that evolves here when you read these that suggests that she is more interested in taking a case or not taking it based upon how they can advance the law to suit themselves or play defense against a court that she thinks might make bad law.”