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#6 – Elena Kagan

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Elena Kagan is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She was nominated by 51st President Barack Obama in May 2010. She is the fourth woman to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court.


After graduating from Princeton University, the University of Oxford, and Harvard Law School, she worked as a clerk for a federal Court of Appeals judge, as well as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.


She launched her career as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. Later, she left to serve as an Associate White House Counsel, and eventually became a policy adviser under then-President Bill Clinton. She also worked as a professor at Harvard Law School, where she came to be named as its first female dean.


In her first term on the court, Kagan did not write any separate opinions and wrote the fewest opinions of any Justice on the court. She only wrote majority opinions or dissents assigned to her by more senior justices. This impacted her ability to write her own opinions in the future and distinguish herself from the rest of the group.1 wrote the fewest opinions from the period of 2011 to 2014.2


Justice Kagan dissented in the case “Luis v. United States”, where the five-justice majority held that the pre-trial freezing of untainted assets not traced back to criminal activity was a violation of a defendant’s sixth amendment right to counsel. 5 The defendant, Sila Luis had been charged with Medicare fraud, in which prosecutors alleged he illegally charged $45mil for unneeded services.6 Kagan dissented, in Luis’s favor, because she did not think criminal defendants should be treated differently based on how quickly they spent their illegal proceeds. 7





“Her Honor.”,
Kedar-Bhatia. “Final October Term 2012 Stat Pack.” SCOTUSblog, SCOTUSblog, 9 Sept. 2013,
Kedar-Bhatia. “Final Stat Pack for October Term 2013 and Key Takeaways.” SCOTUSblog, SCOTUSblog, 3 July 2014,
Adler, Jonathan. “Opinion | A Most Interesting Supreme Court Lineup.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 30 Mar. 2016,
Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Rules Against Freezing Assets Not Tied to Crimes.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 Mar. 2016,
Twitter, Ian Millhiser. “Justice Kagan Just Wrote The Most Interesting SCOTUS Opinion Of The Year.” ThinkProgress, 31 Mar. 2016,

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