washingtonpost.com
Elena Kagan sworn in as 112th U.S. Supreme Court justice

By Laura Blumenfeld
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 8, 2010; A02

Vowing to "administer justice without respect to persons and do equal right to the poor and to the rich," Elena Kagan was sworn in by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. as the 112th justice to the Supreme Court on Saturday.

She is the second justice President Obama has placed on the nation's highest court.

Kagan, 50, the Obama administration's solicitor general, succeeds 90-year-old justice John Paul Stevens. The ceremony came two days after the Senate confirmed Kagan in a partisan vote of 63 to 37. She is the fourth female justice to serve on the high court.

Widely considered a consensus-building liberal, Kagan is not expected to change the ideological balance of the court, which often splits 5 to 4 on key decisions. In the years ahead, the court is likely to hear controversial cases on such issues as immigration and same-sex marriage.

In her first term, Kagan will recuse herself from several cases because of her work as solicitor general. On the court's opening day, Oct. 4, she will disqualify herself from sitting on a case regarding laws pertaining to mandatory minimum prison sentences.

Democrats describe Kagan, the former dean of Harvard Law School, as a keen legal scholar. Republicans noted during her confirmation hearings that she has never been a judge and questioned her politics as a policy adviser to former president Bill Clinton.

The fourth new justice in five years, Kagan is part of a generational shift taking place on the nine-member court. She is the fifth justice to have been born after World War II. And her formal installation, which will take place at the start of the court's new term, means that, for the first time in U.S. history, three women will share the bench.

Post a Comment


Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company