May 6, 2013
Contact: University Relations
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan spoke with UB law students April 30 before celebrating the grand opening of the new John and Frances Angelos Law Center in the evening.
Kagan, appearing onstage in the "old" Moot Court Room, first talked with Dean Ronald Weich and then took questions from students. The room was full for the hour-long question-and-answer session.
Kagan, a former dean of the Harvard Law School, laid down one ground rule: no questions about matters pending before the court. But she spoke candidly, calling her job on the nation's top bench "a good gig."
"I have no complaints," she said. "It's really fun."
Of relations among the justices, she said, "The nine of us … spend more time talking than most people think."
She added that splits on the bench were not "stereotypical."
"We're more unpredictable than we're given credit for," Kagan told the audience. "We like each other an enormous amount. It's a very collegial court, a very warm court."
Kagan said that her clerks draft opinions—but that she always ends up writing her own.
"I sit down at a computer and I write and then I know what I think," she said.
Kagan said she particularly enjoyed composing dissents.
"Writing dissents is fun," she said. "You can let a little bit more of your personality to show through in your writing."
She added that the justices could be "harsher in print" than they are with each other in person: "We lay out the disagreement and we move on."
Check out this video of Kagan's Q&A.
Learn more about the opening of the Angelos Law Center.
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