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Elena Kagan in highschool, Kagan at confirmation hearings Left: In a playful high-school yearbook photo, Elena Kagan wears a judge's robe and and holds a gavel. (Hunter High School, Ellen Purtell/AP Images) Right: Kagan at Senate confirmation hearings. (Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Meet the Newest Supreme Court Justice

Elena Kagan confirmed by the Senate, 63-37

By Laura Leigh Davidson | August 6 , 2010
1977 yearbook photo of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. Kagan attended Hunter College High School in New York City (Photo: NewsCom) <br />
1977 yearbook photo of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. Kagan attended Hunter College High School in New York City (Photo: NewsCom)

Elena Kagan has reached a lifelong goal: becoming a Justice on the United States Supreme Court. The U.S. Senate confirmed Kagan on Thursday by a vote of 63-37. She replaces Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in June.

Kagan will take a sacred oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States on Saturday at a swearing-in ceremony. The new Justice will bring the number of women sitting on the nation's highest court to three. Kagan joins Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor—all three New Yorkers.

Kagan is the fourth woman in history to sit on the Supreme Court. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was the first female Justice. She was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and served from 1981 to 2006.

Kagan, who is 50 years old, is the second Justice appointed by President Barack Obama. (He appointed Justice Sotomayor in 2009.) Obama told reporters on Thursday that Kagan will make an "outstanding Justice who understands that her rulings affect people." He also noted that the addition of another woman to the Supreme Court marks a sign of progress for the country.

Obama and Kagan will celebrate her confirmation with a ceremony at the White House today.

Her Story

Kagan has spent most of her adult life working with the law. She served in President Clinton's administration as a legal adviser, was the head of Harvard Law School, and until her confirmation Thursday, was the U.S. Solicitor General—one of the most powerful lawyers in the federal government.

Kagan was born in New York City. She grew up in an apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the strong-willed, independent middle sister sandwiched between two brothers.

Kagan's mother was a public school teacher who taught fifth and sixth grades. Her father was a lawyer.
The new Justice once wore a judge's robe in a picture for her high-school yearbook. Now she'll be wearing real ones as she and the other eight Justices decide some of the most important legal cases in our country.


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