10 Things You Should Know About Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan
I’ve already heard her name about 16 times today. So who is Elena Kagan, Obama’s nomination for the 112th justice of the Supreme Court, and what is she all about? After the jump, 10 facts you should know about the next woman who may sit on our highest bench.
- Kagan has never actually been a judge, but she was a lawyer educated at Princeton, Oxford, and Harvard.
- She was the first female dean of Harvard Law School. During her time there, she was known for improving student satisfaction, smoothing out faculty relations, building a new academic center, and (my favorite) adding free morning coffee for students.
- She’s a Jewish native New Yorker who has never been married and has no children.
- Her parents were the children of immigrants and both the first in their families to go to college. Her father was a lawyer and her mother a public school teacher, as are her two brothers.
- At the age of 50, she would be the youngest Supreme Court justice on the bench in decades.
- In March of last year, Obama named Kagan the first female Solicitor General, the government’s top lawyer often referred to as “the 10th justice.”
- In her confirmation hearing last year, she stated that she did not believe there was a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, that she was not morally opposed to capital punishment, and that she does not think the decision to support the Second Amendment right for private gun ownership was faulty.
- If confirmed, Kagan would be the second Solicitor General to join the Supreme Court since civil rights icon Thurgood Marshall in 1967. Kagan actually clerked for Marshall in 1987. His nickname for her was “Shorty.”
- Her most controversial stance was challenging the Solomon Amendment, which requires federally funded universities to cooperate with military recruiters on campus. She argued that the military’s ban on gays violated the law school’s right to prohibit employers who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. She also has gone on record saying that the military’s ban on gays is a “moral injustice of the first order.”
- “Through most of my professional life, I’ve had the simple joy of teaching, of trying to communicate to students why I so loved the law: not just because it’s challenging and endlessly interesting, although it certainly is that, but because law matters, because it keeps us safe, because it protects our most fundamental rights and freedoms, and because it is the foundation of our democracy,” Kagan said at her nomination acceptance speech.