Elena Kagan

One of the rare Supreme Court Justices who had never served as a lower court judge, Elena Kagan has made her mark on the court as a liberal Justice with a gift for engaging dissents that avoided legal jargon. Raised Orthodox, Kagan clashed with her rabbi and negotiated her own terms for her Bat Mitzvah, the first of its kind at their synagogue. She graduated from Princeton in 1981, earned an MPhil from Oxford in 1983 and a JD from Harvard in 1986, also chairing the editorial board for the Daily Princetonian and serving as supervisory editor of the Harvard Law Review. After a clerkship for Thurgood Marshall at the Supreme Court and private practice at Williams & Connolly, Kagan began teaching at the University of Chicago Law School in 1991. She was appointed Deputy White House Council in 1995, rising to become Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council from 1997–1999. She served as dean of Harvard Law School from 2003–2009 and was praised for improving the school’s finances, faculty, and general culture. In 2009 she became the first female Solicitor General of the US, and was elevated to the Supreme Court in 2010.


Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Elena Kagan is the fourth woman, and second Jewish woman, to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

Date of Birth

New York, NY
United States

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Elena Kagan." (Viewed on February 25, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/kagan-elena>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox