Elena Kagan's chutzpah (and Jewishness) on display

Yesterday marked the final day of Solicitor General and Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearings are regarded by some as a useful tool for gauging a nominee’s judicial philosophy and by others as a farcical display of senatorial bluster and skilled evasiveness. Kagan herself sharply criticized the hearing process itself in a 1995 article she wrote during her tenure as a professor at the University of Chicago, though she says that her perspective on that particular issue has changed now that she finds herself in the hot seat.

Senators and pundits across party lines have praised Kagan's performance during the hearings, though that does not mean that she can count on the support of any conservative Senators when it's time to vote on her nomination. But she has definitely come across as intelligent, quick-witted, and charming. One of her greatest strengths during the hearings has been a killer sense of humor. Her best one liner played off her Jewish identity. When asked by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) where she was on Christmas Day in the lead-up to a question about the terrorist arrested on a plane this past December, she cleverly retorted "Like all Jews, I was probably at Chinese restaurant."

I get such a kick out of seeing a nominee who doesn't hide her Jewish identity, but jokes about it. She's bold, she's Jewish, she's from New York--in Elena Kagan, I see myself and a lot of other fabulous "Jewesses with Attitude" I know. May that chutzpah help her once she's (hopefully!) on the nation's highest bench.

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How to cite this page

Kadar, Emily. "Elena Kagan's chutzpah (and Jewishness) on display." 2 July 2010. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on October 4, 2023) <https://jwa.org/blog/elena-kagans-chutzpah-on-display>.

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