Tag Archives: Elena Kagan

Kagan and Scalia go hunting

Justice Antonin G. Scalia and Justice Elena Kagan are officially hunting buddies.

The two justices of the U.S. Supreme Court spent Saturday hunting together in Wyoming according to Kagan, who talked about their plans while speaking Friday at an event at the University of Tennessee, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Kagan, who has been target shooting with Scalia several times, told the crowd that last spring Scalia proclaimed: “It’s time to move on to the big game.”

“I’m hoping to bag myself an antelope,” she said Friday.


Kagan: Cameras at the Supreme Court could be ‘quite a bad thing’

As some lawmakers continue to push to allow cameras to broadcast Supreme Court arguments, the Court’s newest justice has chimed in on the issue.

Justice Elena Kagan, speaking before the National Association of Women Judges’ Midyear Meeting and Leadership Conference at Harvard Law School, said that allowing cameras in the Supreme Court could be a risky proposition.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt in the world that putting cameras in Congress has changed the behavior of Congress,” Kagan said, according to our sister blog, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s The Docket. “People start thinking about their audience in a very different way. … It would be quite a bad thing if the introduction of cameras made it a less serious enterprise.”

Breaking: Kagan was not a straight-A law student

As most of you can probably recall (we sure can), law school was a competitive place – and getting a not-so-perfect grade could make you feel as if you were putting your career in jeopardy.

But current law students can take heart! Even if you don’t ace every course, you too can end up on the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to Harvard Law School’s The Record, back when Elena Kagan was a law school student she earned [dramatic drum roll here….] B’s in several classes!

The Record piece goes on to list several other noted legal scholars and judges who earned a less-than-stellar grade or two during their time in law school.

Mukasey: Supreme healthcare recusal calls ‘nonesense’

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey thinks the arguments being made by those calling on Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan to recuse themselves from consideration of the health care challenge are “nonsense.”

In an editorial today in the Wall Street Journal, Mukasey, who helmed the Justice Department for two years under President George W. Bush, takes on critics who think the justices should be disqualified because of Thomas’ wife’s work for groups advocating for the law’s demise and  Kagan’s work as solicitor general when the health care challenges began.

Mukasey takes a strictly legal approach to the situation. The facts underlying the allegations of potential bias do not raise to the level of federal recusal standards, he concludes.

Mukasey wrote; “upon even a cursory examination of the facts it is clear that neither justice should step aside. The court we have should decide the case.”

He noted, however, that the calls for the justices to step aside are not legal at all, but rather a political – a symptom of the increasingly politicized atmosphere the justices face from the time that they sit before the Senate for confirmation.

“The selection of judges has become a high stakes exercise for agenda-driven politics, with nominees often selected with at least one eye focused on their expected tilt on the issues of the day,” Mukasey wrote. “[Later, w]hen contentious cases then come before them, the agenda-driven politics that helped seat the judges does not disappear, nor do the stakes diminish; they rise—along with incentives to disqualify judges.”

Lawmaker continues to press White House on Kagan’s role in health care law’s defense

Rep. Lamar Smith is amplifying his call to the White House to disclose more information about Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s involvement in crafting the defense of the federal health care overhaul when she was solicitor general now that the Court is set to decide the law’s constitutionality.

“Justice Elena Kagan may have played a role in the development and defense of the president’s health-care law during her tenure as U.S. solicitor general,” the Texas Republican wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post. “Despite claims from Obama administration officials that Kagan was not involved in the health-care discussions, e-mails released last month indicate that there may be more to the story.”

Smith is one of several Republican lawmakers and conservative interest groups who have raised concerns about Kagan’s participation in the case. The Justice Department released emails from Kagan’s tenure as solicitor general which show, according to the Obama administration, that measures were taken to shield Kagan from involvement in the defense of the law, which was challenged in federal courts as Kagan was rumored to be a candidate to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Court.

But Smith said some of the emails are inconsistent  with that position, and the White House should provide more information.

“The NFL wouldn’t allow a team to officiate its own game,” Smith worte. “If, as solicitor general, Kagan did advise administration officials on the constitutionality of the president’s health-care law, she should not officiate when the matter comes before the Supreme Court.”

Smith noted that both Kagan and Justice Clarence Thomas – whose wife is affiliated with groups opposing the law – are facing increasing calls by some interest groups to step aside in the case. But according to Smith, the questions raised about Kagan are much more serious.

“[C]oncerns about the job or personal views of a justice’s spouse are not the same as concerns that a justice may have been involved in a matter before it reached the high court,” Smith wrote.

Lawmakers turn up pressure on Thomas, Kagan over health care conflict questions

Members of Congress are amplifying their calls to judicial and Justice Department officials demanding investigations of two Supreme Court justices’ alleged conflicts of interest in the health care reform case pending at the Court.

Since the Court agreed to consider the constitutionality of the federal health care reform law’s individual mandate as well as several other substantive and procedural issues related to the law, calls from members of Congress for Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan to sit out have grown louder.

Friday New York Democrat Rep. Louise Slaughter sent a letter, signed by 52 House members, to the U.S. Judicial Conference requesting a Justice Department investigation into Thomas’ initial failure to include on financial disclosures his wife’s income from organizations opposing the health care law. It’s the second time the lawmaker has asked the Conference to refer the matter to the U.S. Attorney General.

In January, Thomas amended the disclosure forms, calling the initial omission of his wife, Virginia Thomas’ income from the Heritage Foundation an oversight attributable to a “misunderstanding of the filing instructions.”

Meanwhile Senate Republicans are also pressing Attorney General Eric Holder over the health care case, seeking information on whether Kagan’s work as solicitor general creates a conflict of interest that precludes her involvement in the case.

According to Politico, Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, sent a letter to Holder saying the Justice Department has handled questions about Kagan in a “highly questionable manner” and demanding clarification on Kagan’s role.

“Your Department’s refusal to provide information to the Congress that could eliminate this apparent conflict of interest only undermines … confidence [in the administration of justice] further,” the letter stated.

Emails recently released from the Justice Department reveal that, in 2010, then-Solicitor General Kagan called Senate support for the health care bill “simply amazing.”

In email, SG Kagan called health care bill support ‘simply amazing’

Emails recently obtained by conservative government watchdog Judicial Watch reveal that in 2010, then-U.S. Solicitor General  Elena Kagan was in a celebratory mood when she learned there was enough Senate support to pass the Obama administration’s health care overhaul.

“I hear they have the votes Larry!!” Kagan wrote in a March 21, 2010 email exchange with Laurence Tribe,  who was then a White House senior advisor. “Simply amazing…”

Some Republican lawmakers have called for an investigation to determine if Kagan had any role in the implementation or defense of the health care law when she was solicitor general.

Neither Kagan nor Clarence Thomas – who is also the object of calls by some to recuse from the case based on his wife’s connections to groups urging that the law be struck down – indicated that they would recuse themselves from the case when the Court granted certiorari Monday.

“These new emails are bound to raise additional questions about whether Justice Kagan ought to participate in High Court deliberations on Obamacare,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a statement. “Certainly, if these documents were known at the time of her confirmation, there may have been quite a different Senate debate.”

Health care case gets full Court – Kagan and Thomas included

When the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide the constitutionality of the federal health care law’s individual mandate, as well as several other jurisdictional and substantive issues, there was a notable omission: no mention was made about recusal of any justice from the decision.

Despite calls from advocates on both sides of the political spectrum for Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan to remove themselves from any consideration of the health care case, all indications suggest both will be present during the 5 ½ hours of oral arguments slated for the spring. Normally a justice who recuses from a particular case will indicate it in the cert order. But no such indication was made yesterday by Thomas or Kagan.

Critics of Thomas cite the work of the justice’s wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, founded a Tea Party-affiliated group that has called the health care law unconstitutional and worked for the Heritage Foundation, which also opposes the health care law.

Meanwhile some Republican lawmakers have called for an investigation into the role Kagan played in preparing the legal defense to challenges to the health care law during her tenure as solicitor general.

Justices decide for themselves whether to sit out any given cases due to some potential conflict.

“Presumably, they made whatever judgments they were going to make,” said Greg Katsas, a Jones Day partner representing one of the petitioners in the case, told The Hill.

Age before humor

Age is in the eye of the beholder. And during oral arguments yesterday in the case Zivotofsky v. Clinton, Justice Elena Kagan seemed to see age a little differently than one of her colleagues.

When a lawyer pointed out that only those born in Jerusalem before 1948 have the option of listing Palestine as the birthplace on their passports, Kagan, who was born in 1960,  said: “Well, you have to be very old to list Palestine.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was born in 1933, interjected: “Not all that old.”

The remark drew laughter from the crowd and the bench, including Kagan.

Kagan: Justices do lunch, not email

Nowadays it seems that most people communicate with colleagues by firing off missives using Blackberrys, iPhones or other handheld devices. And if they really want to take the old school route, they will write an email on an actual computer.

But not at the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to Justice Elena Kagan, the justices prefer their exchanges to be conducted through hand-delivered memos, the Associated Press reports. The newest justice, speaking at a National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges  event in Tampa, said the justices “ignore 25 years of technology” with their preferred communication method.

“The justices do not e-mail each other,” Kagan said. “The clerks e-mail each other, but the justices do not.”

But the justices do something many other coworkers don’t, Kagan said: speak to each other in person often.

“We actually all like each other very much,” Kagan said. “We eat lunch together and there are some very strong friendships among us…. I’m having a great time. I have no complaints about this job.”

HT: ABA Journal