Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan believes she might not have risen to the high court but for the fact she is a woman, she recently said.
“To tell you the truth there were also things that I got because I was a woman,” said Kagan, who was solicitor general in the Obama adaministration and a strong supporter of Obamacare before being appointed to the court. “I mean I’m not sure I would be sitting here, I’m not sure that I would have been President Obama’s nominee if I weren’t a woman and if he wasn’t as committed as he was to ensuring that there was diversity on the Supreme Court.”
Kagan’s legal credentials were never in question, but during the conversation with University of Tennessee Law School Dean Doug Blaze, she outlined barriers and challenges she faced as a woman coming up through the legal and judicial rungs and how she overcame them.
“I feel pretty lucky that I haven’t had to mount all that many barriers or leap over all that many hurdles that were there because I was a woman and I think that’s because at the time I came along where a lot of the women who preceded me had done a lot of the hard work to make sure that women and men were evaluated equally and had the same opportunities as each other,” said Kagan in a video first published at the Knoxville News Sentinel this past weekend.
She also acknowledged a debt to previous woman who had climbed to the Supreme Court, including Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman justice, appointed to the high court in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who rose to the bench in 1993 and was the first female Jewish Supreme Court justice. Kagan was the second. A fourth woman, Sonia Sotomayor, is the first Hispanic justice in history.
“They just pushed through it all,” she said, “and they somehow managed to have these absolutely remarkable careers had remarkable families at the same time. And I think that women like that, you know, did the hard work for women like me coming 25 years later.”
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