The Senate yesterday confirmed Elena Kagan to serve on the 112th Supreme Court, making her the fourth female justice on the court when she is sworn in Saturday.
Kagan, who was was approved by a vote of 63 to 37, will replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens and join two other women currently serving, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Kagan will be the only justice on the court who has not previously served as a judge, as well as the youngest member of the court.
During her June 28 confirmation hearing before Senate Judiciary Committee, Kagan said she will “listen hard to every party before the court and to each of my colleagues.”
“I will work hard,” she said. “And I will do my best to consider every case impartially, modestly, with commitment to principle and in accordance with law.”
Kagan, a graduate of Princeton University, Worcester College at Oxford and Harvard Law School, began her professional career by clerking for Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals, and later, for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court. During this time, she also worked for Michael Dukakis’ 1988 presidential campaign. After Dukakis lost his bid for the presidency, Kagan entered private sector to work as an associate at Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C.
After three years at Williams & Connolly, Kagan began teaching law at the University of Chicago Law School. She left the school in 1995 to work as associate counsel for President Bill Clinton. During her career at the White House, Kagan held the position of deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy and deputy director of the domestic policy council.
Clinton nominated Kagan to serve on the D.C. Circuit of Appeals, but she decided to return to academia in 1999. Starting as a visiting professor at Harvard Law, Kagan quickly became professor of law in 2001 and then dean of the law school in 2003, a position she held for half a decade.
After Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, he appointed Kagan to the role of solicitor general. She was confirmed by the Senate on March 19, 2009, and thus became the first woman to serve as solicitor general of the United States.