August 8, 2010 in Nation/World

With swearing in, Kagan becomes high court justice

Janet Hook Tribune Washington bureau
Associated Press photo

Chief Justice John Roberts administers the judicial oath to Elena Kagan on Saturday. The Bible is held by Jeffrey Minear, counselor to the chief justice.
(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – Elena Kagan was sworn in as the 112th justice of the Supreme Court on Saturday, just two days after the Senate voted to confirm her nomination by a 63-67 margin.

She is not expected to dramatically change the ideological balance of the court because she replaces retired Justice John Paul Stevens, a fellow liberal jurist.

At a reception honoring Kagan on Friday, President Barack Obama said that the addition of another woman ensures that the court will be “a little more inclusive, a little more representative, more reflective of us as a people than ever before.”

However, with Kagan – a Jewish law professor who studied at Harvard Law School – the court becomes more homogeneous in other ways. It no longer has any Protestants, and all nine justices have been trained in the Ivy League.

Having served for the last year as Obama’s solicitor general, Kagan has been the government’s chief lawyer before the court. At the White House reception, Kagan told her Justice Department associates not to expect her to be a rubber stamp for the administration.

“Once I put on that robe, I’m only going to vote with them when they have the better of the argument, which – let’s be frank – is not in every case,” Kagan said to laughter.

Kagan is expected to recuse herself from deciding several upcoming cases because she participated in preparing the government’s position.

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