Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan awarded the Brandeis Medal

By on October 24, 2016

By Phillip Lentsch–

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan accepted the University of Louisville School of Law Brandeis Medal on Oct. 24 in honor of her work on the court. Kagan also participated in a public interview with U of L law professors Laura Rothstein and Justin Walker.

Walker, one of Kagan’s students at Harvard Law School when she served as dean, centered his questions around her time as a professor and justice. Rothstein asked questions about former members of the Supreme Court and Kagan’s experience as a woman on the court.

One of the questions Rothstein posed asked about obstacles Kagan faced as a woman in law school or on the court. Almost unexpectedly, Kagan replied she didn’t feel as though it affected her much.

“I’d say that previous female justices, such as Justice O’Connor or Justice Ginsburg, would have more to say on some of the issues that come with being a woman on the court since they were a part of the generation that excluded women from opportunities in the legal profession,” Kagan said. “When I was at Harvard, though, things were rapidly changing for women.”

Kagan was also asked about her experience clerking for former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. She recalled several fond memories.

“He was just an incredible man,” Kagan said. “Every day there’d always be an interesting story or tidbit of information that he’d bring up, which made it even more of a pleasure to work for him. It was really a privilege.”

In Feb. 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia – the longest serving justice on the court – died. Since his death, the court has dealt with the controversy of replacing him while grieving the loss of a friend and colleague.

“I truly miss him. He was great friend, with an incredibly warm and charismatic personality and a brilliant legal mind,” Kagan said. “We may have disagreed on several things while working together, but there’s a strong bond that comes from serving on the Supreme Court that not many people can understand.”

At the end of the interview, Kagan was presented the Brandeis Medal for her commitment to public service. She also received honorary boxing gloves with Muhammad Ali’s name stitched into them and a shirt that read, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Photo by Phillip Lentsch / The Louisville Cardinal

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  1. Pingback: Elena Kagan and Jeffrey Rosen | Brandeis and Harlan Watch

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