Elena Kagan [official profile; JURIST news archive] was sworn in [video] as the 112th justice of the US Supreme Court [official website] Saturday. Kagan, the former US Solicitor General and dean of Harvard Law School [official websites], took part in two ceremonies [AFP report]a private one for her friends and family, and a public ceremony. Chief Justice John Roberts [official profile] administered the oath [press release], in which Kagan swore to "administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich," while placing her hand on a Bible owned by Justice Stephen Breyer [NPR report]. Kagan is replacing Justice John Paul Stevens [Oyez profile], who announced his retirement [JURIST report] in April. President Barack Obama [official profile] did not attend the ceremony, but held a separate reception [WH blog] on Friday where he compared Kagan to former justice Thurgood Marshall [Oyez profile], citing her intellect and "path-breaking career." Kagan, who served as clerk to the former justice, stressed the importance of her appointment to the Court:
[T]his appointment is not just an honor. Much more importantly, it is an obligation -- an obligation to protect and preserve the rule of law in this country; an obligation to uphold the rights and liberties afforded by our remarkable Constitution; and an obligation to provide what the inscription on the Supreme Court building promises: equal justice under the law.Kagan will join the other Supreme Court justices on the bench for the court's fall term after her formal investiture ceremony scheduled for October 1. Kagan's appointment is not expected to change the balance of the current court, which has taken on a more conservative ideology in recent years. Kagan will join associate justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg [Oyez profiles] as the third female member of the Roberts court and the fourth female justice in the court's history.
The US Senate [official website] confirmed Kagan to her position [JURIST report] on the court by a 63-37 vote [roll call vote] on Thursday. The vote fell largely along party lines, with five Republicans voting in her favor and one Democrat voting against her. Republican senator Scott Brown (R-MA) [official website] cited Kagan's lack of judicial experience as his reason for opposing her confirmation, while other senators like Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Nebraska senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) [official websites] called her an activist and disagreed with her opposition during her time as dean at Harvard Law School to allow military recruiters access to students. Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-6 [JURIST report] to send Kagan's nomination to the full Senate for consideration after delaying its vote [JURIST report] at Sessions' request due to his concerns over Kagan's positions on legislation during her time working for the Clinton administration. Obama nominated Kagan [JURIST report] for the position this past May.