Supreme Court Nominations

Details of Kagan’s Life Emerge: Devoted to Law, Favoring Opera and Hamburgers

After Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, news stories probed how she spent her money, her workaholic ways and her suffering romantic relationships.

Now the focus is on Elena Kagan, nominated to replace Justice John Paul Stevens. Her world, according to the Washington Post, is a narrow one, despite “a blaze of accomplishment.” She never married and never had children, and her friends are from her professional work. “She made her life the law and became consumed by it—and happily so, by all accounts,” the Post says.

The story has plenty of details. Kagan doesn’t care for pets. She saw Iron Man II and The Ghost Writer. After oral arguments, she lunched with her deputy in the solicitor general’s office at Central Michel Richard, where she always ordered a hamburger and a side salad. She plays a mean poker game. She throws dinner parties. She loves opera and the theater. She doesn’t drive much, and has been known to forget to turn off the car after parking it.

Colleagues described Kagan as a loyal friend in whom they could confide their troubles, even though she didn’t talk of her own problems. “She is not going to emote all over you,” one friend, Viveca Novak, told the Post. Novak, who worked for Time, met Kagan while in a Washington, D.C., book club around 1995. Other members included lawyers, other professional acquaintances and a law professor.

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