Supreme Court Justice Profile: Elena Kagan

Last month, we tackled on the life, achievements, and deeds of Justice Sonia Sotomayor. In this post, we will talk about another of one of the most powerful justices in the U.S. Supreme Court, Associate Justice Elena Kagan.

Reputed to be Harvard’s first female dean, Kagan is also the fourth female justice to serve the Supreme Court.

Below are some facts on Associate Justice Elena Kagan.

Elena Kagan

Born: April 28, 1960

Profession: Lawyer

Alma Mater:

Princeton University, 1981 (Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship, Summa Cum Laude)

Oxford University, 1983

Harvard Law School, 1986 (Magna Cum Laude)


Born in New York City to Robert and Gloria Kagan, Elena was the middle of three children. Through her childhood, her family remained in New York. For her primary education, Kagan went to Hunter College Elementary School. In 1977, she graduated high school from Hunter and entered Princeton for her A.B. in history.

In 1981, she graduated summa cum laude and received one of the highest awards given by the university, the Princeton Daniel. M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship, which paved the way to attaining her Master of Philosophy Degree at Oxford University’s Worcester College.

Three years after, she received her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School.

Between 1986-1987, she worked as a law clerk for Hon. Abner Mirka of the United States Court of Appeals. After that, she worked for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court, still as a law clerk.

In 1989, she decided to work in private practice, until she went on to teach at the University of Chicago Law School.

She then became Special Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1993. Between 1997-1999, she was Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy during the Clinton Administration.

In 1999, she decided to teach law once again, this time, at Harvard University, where in 2009, she became its first female dean.

On January 5, 2009, President Obama announced Kagan’s nomination to be Solicitor General. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 19, 2009 and made her first appearance before the Supreme Court on September 9 of that same year.

There had already been rumors that if President Obama were to be reelected, Kagan would most likely be nominated as Supreme Court Justice and that her position as Solicitor General would further increase her chances of being nominated.

On April 9, 2010, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announced his resignation, fuelling speculations that Kagan would take his place.

It was there that on May 10, 2010, Kagan was nominated by President Obama as Supreme Court Justice, filling the vacancy which Justice Stevens left. Being a dean herself, she was endorsed by fellow deans of other law schools such as Evan Caminker of the University of Michigan Law School. Martha Minow, who took her place at Harvard, also endorsed Kagan.

On August 5 of that year, the Senate confirmed her nomination. Two days after, she was sworn in by Justice John G. Roberts in a private ceremony. Although others argued that she should not have been among the ranks of the Supreme Court Justices as she had no prior experience of being a judge, many also believe that she’s well-qualified for the position because of her involvement in the judicial branch, as well as her knowledge on the subject matter.

Some works:

Ransom v. FIA Card Services, N. A.

A case on the means test of Chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy code.

Williams v. Johnson

A hearing about the murder of a store owner by the accused, Tara Williams.

Harris v. Quinn

A case regarding the provisions of Illinois’ state law allowing a union security agreement.


Elena Kagan,

Elena Kagan,

Biography of Elena Kagan, Women in Business