This article first appeared on Yahoo! News on May 25, 2010.

Reporting by Mark Sherman.

As Marshall clerk, Kagan was wary of conservatives

WASHINGTON – As a young lawyer working for Justice Thurgood Marshall, Elena Kagan repeatedly expressed her concern that a conservative Supreme Court  was looking for ways to cut back on the rights of women, criminal defendants and prisoners.

Documents from Kagan's year with Marshall show a law clerk who was frequently assessing the politics of the institution. Her memos to the justice are on file in Marshall's papers at the Library of Congress.

Kagan's time with Marshall, the groundbreaking lawyer who argued against segregation and later became the first African-American on the court, is likely to be a subject at her confirmation hearing, scheduled to begin in late June. She would be only the sixth justice to have served as a law clerk for the high court, but the only one whose former boss's papers were public at the time of her nomination.

Some Senate Republicans already have signaled they could make issue an issue of Kagan's clerkship with Marshall, whom conservatives have branded an activist judge more concerned about outcomes than rules.

"You can't draw too many conclusions from these memos," said University of Wisconsin law professor Brad Snyder, who has examined relationships between judges and clerks. "There's a danger of saying if Kagan clerked for Marshall she must be an off-the-charts liberal. There's no formula, but it will be interesting what she chooses to say about Thurgood Marshall, the judge, at her confirmation hearings."

Kagan, 27 when she began working for Marshall in 1987, said in Senate testimony last year that she tried to "channel" Marshall in her memos, not express her own views. Her concerns appear to echo Marshall's well-established views...the full article can be seen here.

Submitted by Erin Syth on October 28, 2016

This article appears in the categories: In the Media

Related employee profiles: Brad Snyder