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Elana Kagan

By Elijah Lippe ‘11

On May 10, 2010 President Barack Obama nominated Elana Kagan for the Supreme
Court to fill the vacancy for the retirement of John Paul Stevens, at the end of the
Supreme Court’s 2009-2010 term. Before this Elana Kagan was Solicitor General,
appointed such on January 26, 2009 also by Barack Obama. Prior to this Kagan has
been a Dean at Harvard, a professor at University of Chicago Law School, and also a
policy adviser under President Clinton.

Kagan was born April 28, 1960 to her mother Gloria Kagan, a fifth/sixth grade
teacher, and to her father Robert Kagan, who was an attorney. She attended a
synagogue and was Orthodox, but today identifies herself as Conservative. She was
the first female to ever have read from the Torah at that Schul, after arguing with
her Rabbi over the subject. After she finished high school Kagan went to Princeton.
There she received the Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship,
which is one of the most prestigious awards given by that University. After this she
went to the Harvard Law School. At the Harvard Law School she obtained a Masters
in Philosophy. One of he friends, Jeffrey Toobin, recalled Kagan at Harvard Law
"stood out from the start as one with a formidable mind." "She’s good with people,"
added Toobin. "At the time, the law school was a politically charged and divided
place. She navigated the factions with ease, and won the respect of everyone."

From 1995 to 1999 Elana Kagan was President Bill Clinton’s Associate White House
Counsel and Deputy Assistant for Domestic Policy. In 1996 Kagan argued that the
Government has the right to suppress free speech, despite the first amendment, if
the speech itself is ‘hateful’, as long as the restriction of the person who is giving a
speech is done with good intentions. On June 17, 1999 President Clinton nominated
her to the US court of Appeals of Columbia Circuit, to replace James Buckley who
had taken senior status 4 years preceding this. She did not receive the job though.

After the services she performed in the White House, Kagan did not have a job,
sadly. She asked the Chicago Law School for one but they did not agree. She found
a position after this a t the Harvard Law School as a visiting professor. In 2001 she
was nominated as a full professor and was named the first female Dean of Harvard
Law School in 2003. While there she changed the first year curriculum and added
free morning coffee among other comforts. While still serving as the Dean she
inherited the campaign, “Setting the Standard”, which was supposed to raise $400
million. It ended in 2008 with $476 million, $76 million above the original goal.
During her role as Dean, Kagan also was against the military recruiters from
stepping foot on Harvard Campus. She barred the military because she felt that it
discriminated against Homosexuality.
On January 5, 2009 Pres. Elect Barack Obama announced he would nominate Kagan
as Solicitor General. The US senate confirmed her on March 19, 2009 with a vote of
61 to 31, becoming the first female to hold that part. After this she will be on the
Supreme Court. Once she is on it she will be the third current Jewish female
Supreme Court Justice.

Elijah Lippe