Ever since Supreme Court Justice David Souter announced his plans to retire this year, the legal blogs and pundits have been all atwitter with excitement about whom President Obama would name as Souter’s successor: Will it be a woman? Gasp! Will it be a minority woman? Double gasp! Will it, perhaps, be a gay, minority woman? So gasp-worthy I have to Tweet it!
It’s been kind of like a Miss America pageant for law geeks sans Donald Trump’s mad comb-over and the objectification of the brilliant and accomplished women (and maybe possibly one man) who are vying for the crown. Oh, wait. Never mind.
Despite all that’s been written and said about the potential nominees, how well do you really know the people on the short list?
This week, The Shark prowls the Interwebs to bring you a list of interesting facts you may or may not have known about your favorite possible Supreme Court nominee starting with a couple of the punditry’s top picks: Solicitor General and former Harvard Law dean Elena Kagan and U.S. Appeals Court judge Sonia Sotomayor.
Elena Kagan, Solicitor General
Alumna: Harvard Law School, 1986
- When Kagan became supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review, the publication had gone unpublished for four issues because of “dysfunctional student management” the previous year. Kagan sacrificed a chunk of her summer to complete her predecessor’s unfinished issues.
- Her former law review colleagues described working with her as a respite from the school’s political battles. “She was the adult presence in the room, the one who could get people to sit down and reconcile their differences,” said Owen J. Clements, a member of the Law Review under Kagan’s leadership.
- She is described by former colleagues as very natural, New York-y and having a self-effacing sense of humor. Law professor Carol Steiker, who served as law review president when Kagan was supervising editor, said of Kagan’s personality: “It’s almost an anti-charisma kind of charisma, but it’s very, very charming.”
- She became the first female dean in Harvard Law School’s 186-year history when she took the helm in 2003.
- She applied her experiences as a student to her work as the dean of the school, including addressing the large class size and the aloofness of professors that she and her classmates had experienced. (The Harvard Crimson)
- As dean, she helped raise law student spirits by bringing an ice skating rink to the school. (Harvard Law Record)
Sonia Sotomayor, judge 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
Alumna: Yale Law School, 1979
- Sotomayor, whose family came to the U.S. from Puerto Rico, grew up in a Bronx housing project. She knew she wanted to become a lawyer when she was 10 years old.
- She completed her undergraduate degree at Princeton University where she received the prestigious Pyne Prize, an annual award given to one or more graduating seniors who have manifested exceptional scholarship, leadership and personal character. (New York Daily News)
- During her time at Princeton, she was actively involved in two campus organizations “devoted chiefly to the celebration of an ethnicity distinct from that of the white majority,” according to The Free Republic. “The Puerto Rican group on campus, Accion Puertorriquena, and the Third World Center provided me with an anchor I needed to ground myself in that new and different world,” Sotomayor said.
- Sotomayor was the editor of the Yale Law Journal. (Free Republic)
- If she's Obama's nominee, she would become the first Hispanic female Supreme Court justice. (Everyone and their mother)