26
Sep
11

Verdict on Kagan’s First Year on Supreme Court

The phone rang last year as soon as the Senate confirmed Elena Kagan as the Supreme Court’s newest justice.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said he wanted to be the first to congratulate and welcome Kagan to the court, she recalled at a recent event at the Aspen Institute. And Roberts told her one other thing: that the two were going to be serving together for the next 25 years.

“Only 25?” Kagan responded.

The potential of a lifetime of duels involving the liberal Kagan and conservative Roberts — the two youngest justices — is one of the intriguing storylines to emerge from Kagan’s first year on the court. A first term provides a limited perspective, but as the court opens its new session early next month, Kagan’s performance last year offered clear signals about a woman who came to the bench as something of a mystery.

The first justice in more than 40 years who had never been a judge, Kagan established herself quickly as a forceful and insightful questioner on a court filled with strong personalities.

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