Antonin Scalia | Elena Kagan | News | Supreme Court

Kagan Praises Scalia, Says Wisdom Required in 'Disruptive' Cases

SCOTUS Justice Elena Kagan gives an interview to Politico:

Elena_kaganSaying she genuinely “loves” her colleagues, Kagan praised her frequent intellectual opponent, Justice Antonin Scalia – with whom she revealed she spent three days hunting in Wyoming this fall. Asked to discuss how she interprets the language in laws the justices consider, Kagan credited Scalia with changing the direction of the court.

“This is in some ways a testament to one of my colleagues, to Justice Scalia, because if you look back 30 years ago … there was much less attention paid to the words Congress used to write a statute,” Kagan said. “One of the terrific things he has done is to make people engage with the words that Congress actually used, because that’s what they thought about and that’s what they actually passed.”

In what may have been a reference to upcoming cases such as two on gay marriage that the justices this month agreed to hear, Kagan was asked what role public opinion plays in the justices’ opinions.
                                                                                                           “Well, I don’t think any of us make our decisions by reading polls,” Kagan said. “One’s sense of what to do as a judge is bounded in some way by the society in which one lives” and the political process of getting appointed, she said.

Still, the justice said, “One does think long and hard as a judge -- and I’m not sure I’ve ever been in this position --… before you do something that you think is required by law that would be incredibly disruptive to society, and that’s where great wisdom is called for.”

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  1. Sorry but I just lost much respect for Kagan. The fact that she picked up a gun and went hunting with Scalia is appalling and incredibly disturbing. HOW do we get these kinds of people on the Supreme Court?

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Dec 14, 2012 1:47:55 PM


  2. liked her a lot better when she recused herself on everything, she's peoplepleaser for sure, just not sure which people.

    Posted by: CD in DC | Dec 14, 2012 1:48:04 PM


  3. "before you do something that you think is required by law that would be incredibly disruptive to society"

    Not counting my chickens...

    Posted by: Gus | Dec 14, 2012 1:51:21 PM


  4. too bad she didn't pull a chaney and shoot the bastard

    Posted by: walter | Dec 14, 2012 1:51:33 PM


  5. too bad she didn't pull a chaney and shoot the bastard

    Posted by: walter | Dec 14, 2012 1:51:35 PM


  6. Oh dear. How to read this. It's incredibly naive of her to say such things about Scalia; his intentions are not the least bit noble or what have you. Now, she's up in the air, isn't she? By the way, the justice who wrote the disgusting majority opinion in Bowers was elected by JFK. So now the difference between liberal and conservative judges is becoming extremely murky, especially in this most precarious time.

    Posted by: Matt | Dec 14, 2012 1:51:43 PM


  7. *double facepalm*

    I just lost all respect for her as well. Incredibly stupid

    Posted by: Steve | Dec 14, 2012 1:52:26 PM


  8. "Disruptive to society" like when little Black children and little White children were allowed to sit in the same class room? That disruptive? The ENTIRE state of Virginia shut down ALL it's schools in response. Kagan, don't let the Virginia's of America frighten you when it comes to equality under the law.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Dec 14, 2012 1:52:47 PM


  9. My respect for Elena Kagan just went down about 20 knotches. If she really feels this way then she's an idiot.

    Posted by: Brad | Dec 14, 2012 1:54:06 PM


  10. Going hunting with Scalia just about summarizes her personality for us.

    Posted by: Jack M | Dec 14, 2012 1:54:08 PM


  11. So should we be confident the four "liberals" on the Court are going to be on our side? Ginsberg has already expressed her concerned about bringing social cases to the court too quickly (i.e. Roe v. Wade). Do we have to worry about Kagan as well?

    Posted by: KT | Dec 14, 2012 1:57:15 PM


  12. Considering there has probably been at least one gay member of the Supreme Court every year since about 1990, the Court had better tread very lightly with this issue.

    If you need to ask "who?", just go over the 12-14 or so members in that time. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, its a duck.

    Posted by: Esther Blodgett | Dec 14, 2012 2:04:31 PM


  13. Considering there has probably been at least one gay member of the Supreme Court every year since about 1990, the Court had better tread very lightly with this issue.

    If you need to ask "who?", just go over the 12-14 or so members in that time. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, its a duck.

    Posted by: Esther Blodgett | Dec 14, 2012 2:04:32 PM


  14. "Disruptive"?

    F*ck her. The truth is that marriage equality is only as "disruptive" as people make it, usually based on their book of myths. When gay couples get married do these paranoiacs feel a 'disturbance in the force,' a lessening of belief in their own vows or love for their spouse, or ANY qualitative or quantitative change. No. Not a f*cking thing happens, and not ONE of their doom and gloom prophecies have come to pass.

    Posted by: Caliban | Dec 14, 2012 2:05:22 PM


  15. Why is Kagan congratulating this sloppy-mouthed bigot, of all people, for getting people to "engage with words?" She could find a much worthier ass to kiss. The justices are all too cozy and self-satisfied in their little black robes.

    Posted by: Richard | Dec 14, 2012 2:11:44 PM


  16. Please go to CHANGE.ORG and sign the petition to Justice Scalia to recuse himself from the two marriage cases before the Court. His personal bias will cloud his decision.

    Thank you.

    Posted by: Marc Sweet | Dec 14, 2012 2:12:37 PM


  17. Oh brother, praise for Scalia means another enemy to me. I'm going back to bed.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Dec 14, 2012 2:15:08 PM


  18. Interesting how one moment a judge can't base their decisions on polls, but the other moment a judge has to be concerned over making a "disruptive" decision.

    "I ignore pro-gay polls, but I vote anti-gay because there are so many anti-gay people!"

    Posted by: G.I. Joe | Dec 14, 2012 2:24:30 PM


  19. yes, how dare she try to like the other 8 people on the court with her. how appalling. They should all hate each other based on how their views differ. how dare she go hunting with him or have friends at work - horrid. how dare ginsburg be friends with him (anyone remember the picture of her on the back of an elephant with him?)

    chill out. you know she's going to rule in favor of gay marriage. is it really that horrible that she (and for that matter all the justices) don't want to hate their lives, so they make friends with each other, since well, you know, they're kind of on that bench for LIFE.

    Also, I'd agree with her about the benefit of textualism that Scalia has brought to the court. I don't care for him as a justice, but he did do this, which is nice.

    Posted by: matt | Dec 14, 2012 2:27:38 PM


  20. Judging from the nonsensical comments above, did you people actually READ the article? It says: (1) Kagan is frequently the intellectual opponent of Scalia, and (2) she said that as a judge you have to think before doing something disruptive. She wasn't necessarily talking about gay marriage (nor does the article state that she was talking about gay marriage).

    I think in a professional setting you can respect someone who is a colleague and be friendly on a personal level while completely disagreeing with their opinions. You really expect her to say "Scalia is a self-righteous homophobic jerk who needs to lay off the twinkies" and go in the next day to work with the guy? Come on.

    And on the whole hunting thing... again, come on. They weren't out shooting humans, or downing endangered species for sport. Where do you think your food comes from? Chicken breast trees and beef bushes?

    Posted by: Joseph L | Dec 14, 2012 2:33:05 PM


  21. By claiming that justices think long and hard before doing anything that might be "disruptive to society" Kagan may be trying to signal to the public that the justices are not going to mandate gay marriage in all 50 states. She probably knows that the issue will continue to get heated - as pro-SSM people anticipate a possible historic victory, and anti-SSM people try to use this as a recruiting tool. Also, she may be trying to discourage an anti-Scalia campaign on the part of gay activists, fearing that it will only harm the gay rights cause. I'm assuming that she's doing what she considers to be the right thing. It could be something like a Sister Souljah moment. She's shrewd enough to understand that the gay rights movement doesn't have to like her for her to be doing them good. I'd cut her some slack.

    Just speculating here.....

    Posted by: Mary | Dec 14, 2012 2:33:52 PM


  22. And another one bites the dust! She's clearly speaking more as a politician than a judge...and if she had half the "hairy bag of beans" that Scalia has, she would call him what he is...nasty,disgusting and bigoted.

    Posted by: PAUL B. | Dec 14, 2012 2:39:29 PM


  23. I don't know her well enough to parse something like this, and I'm sure not going to defend her on no information, but at the same time, "needing to think long and hard" isn't quite the same thing as "refusing to do what it takes when it's the right answer."

    Fact is, having the Supreme Court make the transparently obvious ruling that gay people are actually people, and citizens with rights, and that we don't live in a vacuum so things that are "fundamental rights" and "the very foundation of civil society" and "beyond the reach of government" for straight people need to be the same for us as well, is in fact going to be hugely disruptive.

    I don't mind having the Supreme Court think long and hard on that, especially so that they take the time to do it right and make the rulings ironclad and legally unassailable.

    And, as much as it sucks, if the incremental approach serves to nail this down more firmly than a sweeping change, that might be the right answer. For this cycle to result in the end of DOMA, Prop 8 struck down for California, and a statement that civil unions aren't adequate when rights are given, that's progress. The gold standard would be a recognized suspect class status and a clear statement that the 14th Amendment applies to LGBT citizens, but I'm not expecting that.

    Posted by: Lymis | Dec 14, 2012 2:44:00 PM


  24. Did she drink the kool aid??? Scalia is the worst Justice the SCOTUS has ever produced!!

    Posted by: John Simpson | Dec 14, 2012 2:45:44 PM


  25. @Matt...we choose our "friends" based on common interests and belief systems among other things. I don't have "friends" that consider me an abomination even if they happen to agree with me about gun control. I can tolerate someone I work with and be civil...but don't call them a "friend". Sorry...I'm not desperate enough to befriend someone that considers me hellbound & perverted.

    Posted by: PAUL B. | Dec 14, 2012 2:47:06 PM


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