Elena Kagan confirmed by US Senate as first woman Solicitor General of the United States

March 19, 2009

On March 19, 2009, the US Senate confirmed Elena Kagan as Solicitor General of the United States. By a 61 to 31 vote, Kagan became the first woman Solicitor General in US history.

Kagan studied history at Princeton University, earned a Masters of Philosophy at Oxford and her law degree Magna Cum Laude at Harvard in 1986, where she was the supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review. She began her academic career at the University of Chicago Law School in 1991, becoming a full professor in 1995. She served on the faculty appointments committee and earned the graduating students' award for teaching excellence in 1993.

From 1995 to 1999 Kagan served in the White House as Associate Counsel to President Clinton, then as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. She was Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council from 1997 to 1999, where she played an important role in the executive branch's formulation, advocacy, and implementation of law and policy in a number of areas. In 1999, Elena Kagan returned to Harvard and in 2003 she became the Charles Hamilton Houston Professor of Law and Dean of Harvard Law School. During her six-year deanship, Kagan oversaw impressive growth, including a reform of the curriculum, an expansion of the faculty, a major public service initiative, and the design and construction of a new building.

She also published a number of important books, including Presidential Administration (2001) and Private Speech, Public Purpose: The Role of Governmental Motive in First Amendment Doctrine (1996).

In July 2009, Martha Minow succeeded Elena Kagan as Dean of Harvard Law School becoming the second Jewish woman to hold that position.

In 2010, President Obama nominated Kagan to the US Supreme Court. On August 5, 2010, Elena Kagan was confirmed by the US Senate and joined Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second Jewish woman to become a Supreme Court Justice. Kagan's confirmation marked the fourth time in history that a woman had been appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, and the first time in history that three women Justices served at the same time.

Sources: "Elena Kagan named next dean of Harvard Law School" Harvard University Gazette, April 3, 2003; www.law.harvard.edu/news/spotlight/public-service/elena-kagan-.html; www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/index.html?id=112.


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

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Elena Kagan confirmed by US Senate as first woman Solicitor General of the United States." (Viewed on September 25, 2023) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/mar/19/2009/elena-kagan>.


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