But since that time, she has wasted no opportunity to show her funny side – which makes DC Dicta wonder: Could she be the next Funniest Justice?
Those of you keeping watch of our ongoing tally know that the title currently rests comfortably in the hands of Justice Antonin Scalia, who has handily earned the most laughs of any justices for the past two terms, and is set to three-peat when oral arguments for this term wrap up at the end of the month.
But in her appearances before the Court, Kagan has shown that she too has a funny bone.
After walking up the podium to argue the case Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project in February, Kagan – whose stature is much shorter than other attorneys who regularly argue before the justices – began cranking the lever to lower the lectern.
“With your permission, Mr. Chief Justice. This may take some time,” Kagan said, drawing laughter from the audience as well as the justices.
During arguments last month in the case Robertson v. U.S., Justice Scalia asked Kagan if the Court whether the prosecutor in the case was acting as an agent of the court or the city.
“Who would you like the person be an agent of, Justice Scalia?” Kagan asked.
As the crowd laughed, Scalia answered: “Well, I’m not making the argument.”
“Usually we have questions the other way,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. said.
“I apologize,” Kagan answered, with a smile.
In January, during oral arguments in U.S. v. Comstock, Kagan started to refer to Scalia as “Chief Justice.”
“Excuse me, Justice Scalia,” Kagan said, “I didn’t mean to promote you quite so quickly.”
As the crow laughed, Roberts said: “Thanks for thinking it was a promotion!”