In an ornate courthouse conference room full of family and special guests including five justices, Elena Kagan was sworn in Saturday as the 100th Associate Justice in Supreme Court history. Kagan, 50, did not say anything except for the words of the oath that was administered by Chief Justice John Roberts whom Kagan now supplants as the court's youngest member.
In that oath Kagan swore to administer justice evenly to rich and poor alike and follow the Constitution. It's an oath that all justices take but was actually the second one Kagan took Saturday. Just a few minutes earlier in a different room Roberts administered the oath given to all federal employees.
Kagan's two brothers, Marc and Irving were seated in the front row of the room along with other family members. Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor were also in attendance.
During the oath, Kagan placed her left hand on a Bible owned by Justice Stephen Breyer. It is the same one that he used in his ceremony in 1994 and was also used by Kagan last year when she took the oath to become Solicitor General. Breyer and Kagan are each Jewish, as well as, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The other six justices are Roman Catholics which makes this the first time that no Protestants are on the bench.
Jeffrey Minear, counselor to Chief Justice Roberts, held the Bible for Kagan.
The ceremony was nearly identical to the one that took place a year ago for Justice Sonia Sotomayor and must have surely pleased the man Kagan replaces, retired Justice John Paul Stevens, who criticized the decision of some justices to be sworn in at the White House. Stevens was also in attendance Saturday.
The ceremony took place in one of the court's ceremonial conference room. A portrait of former Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes (1930-1941) looked directly over the proceedings.
Kagan's arrival comes during the court's summer recess. This gives Kagan, who has never been a judge, time to acclimate to her surroundings and hire staff to help her prepare for the high court's upcoming term. There are already hundreds of cases pending on the court's docket awaiting a decision from the justices to grant further review. There are also a dozen cases that have already been scheduled for the court's October sitting but Kagan has announced that she will not take part in three of them--including the first of the term--because of her work as Solicitor General.
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