Tiger of the Week: Elena Kagan ’81

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Forgive the repetition: For the second time in 13 months, Elena Kagan ’81 is our Tiger of the Week. Kagan, who last earned the honor when she was confirmed as the U.S. solicitor general, was nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court May 10. At a press conference that day, Kagan said she was honored and humbled by the nomination.

Though she has no judicial experience, Kagan has had a distinguished career in government and academia, including six years as dean of the Harvard Law School. “[T]hrough most of my professional life,” she said, “I’ve had the simple joy of teaching — of trying to communicate to students why I so love the law not just because it’s challenging and endlessly interesting — although it certainly is that — but because law matters; because it keeps us safe; because it protects our most fundamental rights and freedoms; and because it is the foundation of our democracy.”

Kagan’s nomination has been a point of pride for her native New York City. If approved, she will be the fourth sitting justice from the Big Apple, and the May 11 front page of The Daily News declared her the “Apple of O’s Eye.” Harvard Law also is justifiably excited — Kagan would be the school’s sixth alum on the court (including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who completed her legal studies at Columbia). But Princeton has perhaps the greatest cause for celebration: After 35 years without an alumnus on the high court, recent presidents have been appointing Tigers galore. Samuel Alito ’72 was confirmed in 2006, and Sonia Sotomayor ’76 joined the court last year. A third Princetonian would be a rare feat, not seen on the Supreme Court since before the Civil War.

(Photo courtesy Harvard Law School)

Do you have a nominee for Tiger of the Week? Let us know. All alumni qualify. PAW’s Tiger of the Week is selected by our staff, with help from readers like you.

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