Elena Kagan moves up to big-game hunting with Antonin Scalia

July 1, 2013
Kagan (Bill O'Leary / The Washington Post)
Kagan (Bill O’Leary / The Washington Post)

It’s official: Elena Kagan is now a full-fledged hunter, thanks to her work buddy Antonin Scalia.

Last year, the liberal-leaning Supreme Court justice startled the world with her revelation that she had hunted quail with her conservative colleague. Seems like the new hobby stuck. At the Aspen Ideas Festival on Saturday, Kagan revealed that not only have they been bird hunting together “four or five times,” Scalia took her to the next level.

“He said, ‘It’s time for big-game hunting,’” she recalled in an on-stage interview. “We went out to Wyoming this past fall to shoot deer and antelope, and we did. . . I shot myself a deer.” No duck hunting yet, “but that’s on the trip list.” (See video)

Kagan’s unlikely journey began during her 2010 confirmation process, when meeting with senators who, while trying to divine her views on the Second Amendment, coyly asked if she had any shooting or hunting experience. “You know me — I grew up in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This was not something we really did, you know?” She said that when she horrified one senator (Who? She didn’t say) by asking if he’d take her hunting, she resolved to ask Scalia, a practiced hunter. “He thought it was hilarious,” she said, and promptly agreed.

Antonin Scalia (Bill O'Leary / The Washignton Post)
Antonin Scalia (Bill O’Leary / The Washington Post)

There was a larger point here — that despite their ideological divides, the justices “shmooze more than people think we do.” In addition to her extracurricular hours with Scalia, Kagan spoke fondly of Clarence Thomas, a “justice of incredible integrity” who she said knows the name of every low-level employee at the court. “I enjoy every moment I spend with him.”

On “today’s court, there are true and genuine friendships. The disagreements test people’s capacity to work together and to come back the next day and to find your colleague just as delightful as you found him the day before. But we’re all grownups and we manage to do that.”

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