The careers of Elena Kagan and John Roberts are about to intersect on the Supreme Court, where the two jurists could wrestle over competing visions of American law for decades to come, says the Wall Street Journal. Kagan was confirmed by the Senate yesterday by a 63 to 37 vote. Kagan, 50, has spent a lifetime immersed in the political and academic circles where ideological battles are fought. She was a law clerk to the liberal judges Abner Mikva and Thurgood Marshall, a professor at the University of Chicago and Harvard law schools, a Clinton White House aide, and she is now President Obama’s solicitor general.
Kagan’s career in academia, where she rarely saw the inside of a courtroom, may account for some of the sparks that have flown between the two. When she has made arguments as solicitor general before the Robert court, he has sometimes been dismissive, while she has seemed ready to lecture him like an obdurate student. In a case over animal-cruelty videos, the chief justice called Kagan’s claim that Congress had broad power to suppress socially harmful speech “startling and dangerous.” In January’s Citizens United campaign-finance case, where the court’s conservative majority struck down limits on corporate and union political spending, he described her argument as so weak it handed free points to the other side.