10
May
10

Elena Kagan, a History of Pragmatism over Partisanship

Just after Election Day the fall of her senior year at Princeton, Elena Kagan published an opinion piece in the campus newspaper, recounting how she had wept and gotten drunk on vodka at a campaign gathering for a liberal Brooklyn congresswoman who had unexpectedly lost a race for the Senate.

Ronald Reagan was heading to the White House, and Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman — a champion for women’s causes for whom Kagan had toiled 14-hour days as a campaign press assistant — was leaving Capitol Hill. Kagan, then 20 and imbued with the liberal principles on which she had been raised, said she was flirting with despair that “there was no longer any place for the ideals we held. . . . I wonder how all this could possibly have happened and where on earth I’ll be able to get a job next year.”

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