Robert Barnes profiles Justice Elena Kagan in today’s Washington Post. Here’s a taste:
A first term provides a limited perspective, but as the court opens its new session early next month, Kagan’s performance last year offered clear signals about a woman who came to the bench as something of a mystery.
The first justice in more than 40 years who had never been a judge, Kagan established herself quickly as a forceful and insightful questioner on a court filled with strong personalities.
While Kagan’s writings as an academic did not suggest a strong legal philosophy, her opinions and dissents from the bench have shown a conversational, confident writer, at times as sarcastic and cutting as a veteran.
And liberals who worried that she would not shore up the court’s left flank have so far found their concerns unfounded. The man she replaced, Justice John Paul Stevens, said he can think of only a couple of cases where she voted differently than he would have.
Justice Kagan’s quick emergence is even more notable given the high number of cases in which she had to recuse herself this past term.