New High Court Era: Kagan Makes 3 Women on Bench


us-supreme-courtThe Supreme Court began a new era Monday with three women serving together for the first time, Elena Kagan taking her place at the end of the bench and quickly joining in the give-and-take.

In a scene that will repeat itself over the next few months, Kagan left the courtroom while the other justices remained to hear a case in which she will take no part. She has taken herself out of 24 pending cases, including the second of the two argued Monday, because of her work as the Obama administration’s solicitor general prior to joining the court in August.

Opening its new term on the traditional first Monday in October, the court turned down hundreds of appeals, including one from the relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. They are seeking a proper burial for material taken from the World Trade Center site because it could contain the ashes of victims.

The justices also refused to hear several criminal appeals, including one by John and Timothy Rigas, founders of former telecommunications giant Adelphia Communications. They wanted the court to overturn their fraud convictions in connection with Adelphia’s collapse in 2002.

The court also rejected an appeal by reputed Ku Klux Klansman James Ford Seale of his conviction for killing two black men in rural Mississippi in 1964 and another appeal by Georgia death row inmate Jamie Ryan Weis, who said he had no lawyer for two years.

At the court, moments after Marshal Pamela Talkin banged her gavel and commanded the audience’s attention, Chief Justice John Roberts announced the start of the new term with little fanfare.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, beginning her second year on the court, sat at the opposite end of the bench from Kagan, while Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who joined in 1993, sat midway between Kagan and Roberts, who occupies the center chair.

John Paul Stevens’ retirement after 34 years led to Kagan’s appointment.

The new court has four New Yorkers, Antonin Scalia and the three women. All nine justices got their law degrees from Ivy League schools, and all but Kagan previously served as federal appeals court judges.

For the first time ever, there are no Protestants among the justices – six Catholics and three Jews.

The substitution of the liberal-leaning Kagan for the like-minded Stevens is not expected to make a difference in the ideologically tinged cases in which four conservatives face off against four liberals with Justice Anthony Kennedy the decisive vote. Kennedy sides more often with the conservatives.

But none of that matters when the court hears cases like the first one of its new term, a bankruptcy dispute with no evident ideological issue.

The justices were trying to figure out whether someone in bankruptcy who owned a car outright could still shield some income from creditors by claiming an allowance for a car payment. Like many seemingly easy issues that come to the court, this one had divided federal appeals courts.

At one point, Kagan wondered whether someone with a car that had 200,000 miles on it “and was going to break down in the next five years” could plausibly claim the allowance.

No, said Deanne Maynard, the lawyer for the credit card company that is trying to recoup some of the nearly $33,000 it is owed by Jason Ransom. Ransom’s decision to claim a $471 monthly allowance for car payments though he owes no money on his 2004 Toyota Camry landed the case before the Supreme Court.

Kagan may have felt somewhat more comfortable than usual on a justice’s first day in court because two of the lawyers in the case, Maynard and Justice Department lawyer Nicole Saharsky, worked for her when she was at the Justice Department.

The justices did not appear to lean one way or the other in the argument. Roberts suggested that some of the arguments on both sides would lead to absurd results.

{Yahoo News/}


  1. Almost all of the times that the nomination of Miss. Kagan was reported here on Matzav, I posted in the comments the following serious considerations. That Miss. Kagan is now actually functioning in her position of one of the justices of the Supreme Court, we have to be really gravely concerned. So, B’Ezras HaShem, I will post my comments again here.

    More and more, it is becoming revealed and realized how she is a person with an severely radical, almost revolutionary ideology. Her opinions on several key issues are thus on the far, far left of the spectrum. For example:

    She is fanatically for the most extreme Toeiva “rights.”

    She is rabidly for the most extreme abortion “rights.”

    She believes that when judging cases, the courts should take into consideration what are the laws of other FOREIGN COUNTRIES on that issue.

    She believes that the government should greatly limit people’s freedom of speech and even their freedom of religion!

    (For more detail, see the following web pages: and

    That Miss. Kagan is a fellow Jewish woman, the situation is that much more extremely sad in that she has, very unfortunately, adopted positions that are so totally the exact opposite of our Torah HaK’dosha.

  2. (continuation of previous comment #3)

    As Comment #11. from Phil at points out, we have to be gravely concerned, with her radical ideas, how is she going to judge — and influence the other justices with her to also judge — the cases that are brought before them. Furthermore, probably the bulk of the cases that come before the high court are about questions relating to the fundamental principles of our government. Thus, revolutionary decisions on these items can, Chas V’Shalom, well threaten the very stability of our country in general and the very stability of our communities of Klall Yisroel in particular.

    As I am typing these words right now, there are two current gravely serious issues facing us:

    1.) Toeiva “rights” and, specifically, Toeiva “marriage.”

    2.) The case of the outright abuse of Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin, Sh’lita.

    1.) Toeiva rights and marriage.

    It was reported right here on this web site (at how a few months ago, a terrible tragedy occurred. The head judge of one of the lower level Federal Courts struck down the State of California’s Proposition 8.

    [What is California’s “Proposition 8”? B’Ezras HaShem, let us have a brief historical review: In the election of the year 2000, in the state of California, the voters approved Proposition 22, which declared that marriage is only of a man and a woman. In 2004, the (then) new mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, Yimach Shemo V’Zichro, brazenly flaunted this voter passed Prop 22 law as he publicly performed thousands of Toeiva “weddings” right in front of the city hall. In 2008, the local Supreme Court of the State of California struck down Proposition 22, claiming that it went against the state’s constitution. So in response, the promoters of decency proposed an actual amendment to the state constitution (that would declare marriage being only of a man and a woman). It was titled Proposition 8, and in that 2008 year’s election, it was approved by the state’s voters. Now, a Federal Court has struck down this Proposition 8, claiming that this amendment to the STATE constitution (of California) goes against the NATIONAL constitution (of the U.S.).]

    The promoters of decency, while of course being greatly saddened, were still not fazed by this bad ruling. In fact, beforehand, they realized that the court would probably rule this way, for its head judge, Vaughn R. Walker, Yimach Shemo V’Zichro, is himself a Toeiva man. So they were already preparing themselves to appeal this case to a higher Federal Court, and if necessary, they will take it all the way to the national Supreme Court of the U.S.

    Now though, one of the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court is Miss. Elena Kagan. With her fanatical drive for the pro-Toeiva agenda, it is clearly obvious how she would rule on the Toeiva “marriage”/Proposition 8 issue. The only remaining question will be how many of the other eight Supreme Court justices will she be able to, Chas V’Shalom, influence to follow her view?

  3. (continuation of previous comment #4)

    2.) The Rubashkin Case.

    Our Matzav web site and other Torahdike news services have done an exemplarary job of providing us with step by step, virtually up to the minute, updates of the long story of the mean abuse of total UN-justice done to Rav Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin. They further reported how our plan for the case now is to appeal it to a higher Federal Court, and if necessary, take it to the Supreme Court. For our strategy is that, Im Yirtza HaShem, the higher Federal Courts will be above all the blind hatred, lies, manipulations, and political agendas of Mr. Rubashkin’s detractors, and will instead, look at him with a clear view of basic simple truth and justice.

    We have to seriously ponder though, who are the judges who are sitting in these higher level Federal Courts (whom we are assuming will have a clear view of truth and justice)? Now, one of them does happen to be Miss. Elena Kagan, and at least one or two or three of the others are people who will be greatly impressed and influenced by her ideas and arguments.

    Yes, we need to ask this question: how would Miss. Elena Kagan, judge Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin (or anyone else like him)?

    2a.) Before we even get to the Rubashkin case itself though, we are going to be back over to issue #1. of the Toeiva thing. For Mr. Rubashkin is a fully staunchly devout Torah observant Jew, an excellent Ben Torah as a Lubavitcher Chossid. So, he well knows and believes what the Torah teaches all of us, that Toeiva is something that is extremely terrible. His mentor, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, ZT’L, was a major Jewish leader who strongly fought against the (then) emerging Toeiva rights movement. Now, if Mr. Rubashkin were to meat a Toeiva person, he would not necessarily be mean or abrupt to him. On the contrary, he very likely would be very nice to him, as, in a very nice way, he would probably try to get the guy to realize how so totally sick and depraved this Toeiva thingy is and to thus convince him to stop these wicked Toeiva ways. Needless to say, such “niceness” — Rubashkin style — is not exactly the niceness and the acceptence and the equal rights that the Toeiva people want!

    There is no question about it. In the eyes of Miss. Elena Kagan, Mr. Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin is a man who does discriminate — yes, Mr. Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin is a man who DOES discriminate against Toeiva people!!

  4. (continuation of previous comment #5)

    2b.) Regarding the Rubashkin case itself, there is a certain biographical fact about Miss. Kagan that could give us quite a frightening chill. It was earlier related here at, paragraph 17, how with regards to her Judaism, Miss. Kagan currently identifies herself as “Conservative.”

    [These words are certainly a good bit totally confusing! The word “conservative” means the act of keeping to the old traditional ways; thus in the political arena, the “conservatives” refer to those on the far right and often the far religious right. In the Jewish scene though, the word refers to something else entirely. Soon after the Reform Movement began its radical liberal program of changing and discarding much of true Judaism, another group began. It had basically a similar philosophy of changing Judaism, but to be done in a way that was no where near as radically and as rapidly as was being done by the Reform. It was thus called the “Conservative Movement.” (So, in a political sense, in the Jewish scene, the “Conservatives” were often thought of as the “moderates” — ie. those who tried to make a “middle road” between the steadfast ways of the Orthodox and the liberal ways of the Reform.) (Interestingly, those who held to the old ways of fully keeping to our Torah, were never called “conservatives”; instead, the Reformers threw at them an even more fanatic sounding word of “Orthodox”! However, once the Reformers threw at us this insult of being “Orthodox,” then, on the contrary, we took the term and, to this day, we carry it with great pride.)

    For many years, in their observances, the Conservatives SEEMED to be doing pretty much the same thing as us Orthodox. However, as said above, their inner philosophy was pretty much the same as Reform, and thus slowly but surely, their changes came more and more and more. Today, the observances of the Conservatives are quite different from the true Torah ways, which includes that they have fully embraced the extreme leftist social agendas of abortion rights, men and women being the same, Toeiva rights, etc.]

    We need to keep in mind that it was the Conservative Movement that recently started this whole business of changing and revamping the whole Torah rules of Kosher food standards with its new program called “Hechsher Tzedek.” We need to further keep in mind that it was people of this Hechsher Tzedek program who so treacherously took active part in the public chorus of outright lies and defamation that helped cruelly bash down Mr. Rubashkin and the Agriprocessors company.

    With Miss. Kagan’s extreme radical leftist orientation, and with her Jewish Conservative affiliation, what would be her attitude toward this man, Mr. Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin, who directed a very large Kosher meat & poultry producing operation, which staunchly adhered to the strict ORTHODOX Halachos of Kashrus, empathetically rejected the whole program of the Reform/Conservative’s new “Hechsher Tzedek” changes, and was thus targeted by the Hechsher Tzedek people for vehement condemnation?