Kagan to Miss Half of Supreme Court's Caseload

Solicitor general post presents conflicts of interest
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2010 3:09 PM CDT
Kagan to Miss Half of Supreme Court's Caseload
In this Aug. 6, 2010 file photo, Elena Kagan smiles as she is applauded during a ceremony with President Barack Obama to mark her confirmation to become the next Supreme Court justice, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.   (AP)

Elena Kagan began her new gig as a Supreme Court justice today, but thanks to her old gig, she'll miss the action in about half the 51 cases the court has agreed to take on this term. As solicitor general, Kagan drafted briefs for the court for 14 months—exposure that now demands her recusal in 25 of those cases, the Washington Post reports.

Kagan situation will eventually level out, but her problem shows the degree to which the solicitor general is entangled in the Supreme Court's business. It could also have political ramifications, as Kagan will miss hearings on Arizona's controversial immigration law and some employment-discrimination cases. When a recusal takes the Supreme Court down to eight justices, a split verdict means that the lower court's ruling stands. Some ACLU lawyers tell the Post that they are holding cases until they can be sure Kagan will hear them.
(More Elena Kagan stories.)

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