U.S. Supreme Court

Kagan Sworn In, with Three Major Constitutional Disputes Looming


Elena Kagan was sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court justice Saturday, first taking the oath for federal employees and then the oath for judges.

Afterward, Kagan said she would uphold the rule of law, pledging to “work my hardest and try my best to fulfill these commitments and serve this country I love as well as I am able,” the New York Times reports. Fox News and The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times also had stories. She will join two other female justices in the court, and is the fourth woman ever to be appointed.

Even though the court is in recess, Kagan has plenty of work to do, the National Law Journal reports. According to the story, “She’ll be hiring law clerks and secretaries, setting up her chambers, wading into thousands of incoming petitions and handling emergency matters—which may soon include an appeal of a stay in the California same-sex marriage case.”

Gay marriage is one of three major disputes that could shape Kagan’s early years on the court , the Los Angeles Times reports. The other issues are whether state immigration laws are pre-empted and whether Americans can be required to buy health insurance.

Vanderbilt University law professor Tracey George says having a third woman on the court might not change the outcome in cases, but it could affect the way the court goes about its business, the Associated Press reports. She cites social science research showing the presence of a woman in a decision-making group influences the behavior of others.

The story also notes a study that found federal appeals panels with at least one woman judge are significantly more likely to rule in the plaintiff’s favor in sex discrimination suits.

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