Elena Kagan Becomes Supreme Court’s Newest Justice

Posted August 5, 2010 in Government by Arthur Buono

The United States Senate just confirmed Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The Senate voted 63 to 37 for the nominee, mainly on party lines. Kagan becomes just the fourth woman to serve on the court. Her appointment also marks the first time three women have served on the court at the same time.

  • Kagan to decide cases for first time ever
  • Replacement for Justice Stevens unlikely to change Court’s political balance
  • First term holds promise for landmark decisions


Kagan to Bolster Court’s Left Wing

Kagan, 50, was serving as Solicitor General at the time President Obama nominated her. Before that she was professor of law at the University of Chicago and Harvard University. She also served as associate White House Counsel and advisor in the Clinton administration.

Unlike the other current justices, Kagan has never been a judge. We don’t have a paper trail of her judicial opinions to help predict how she might judge upcoming cases. She’s expected to stake out liberal positions on the divisive issues before the court. At any rate her appointment marks the first time since 1971 that four nominees of democratic presidents have sat together on the court.

Kagan faces a judicial baptism of fire. The Court this term may decide California’s gay marriage ban, Arizona’s immigration law, and state challenges to Obama’s health care reform law. Since Justice Stevens in later years had voted often with the Court’s liberal block, Kagan’s confirmation seems unlikely to change the Court’s overall balance. Look for more 5-4 decisions in the coming terms.

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