"Are you prepared to take the oath?" asked Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. of Solicitor General Elena Kagan on Saturday. Kagan, who has arguably been preparing herself for a seat on the Supreme Court for years, promptly replied, "I am, Mr. Chief Justice." With Jeffrey Minear, counselor to the chief justice, holding the Bible -- a Bible loaned by Justice Stephen Breyer -- Kagan took the judicial oath, and in a minute it was done. Now a justice, Kagan beamed as the audience at the Court's West Conference Room applauded. On behalf of the Court, Roberts then welcomed her to "our common calling," and the brief, nationally broadcast ceremony was over.
Roberts and Kagan repaired to the justices' conference room where he had given her the constitutional oath in private before the public swearing-in. There, Kagan signed the oath and affidavit officially sealing the deal, and then they went to a reception held in the lawyer's lounge and, aptly enough, in the adjacent office of the solicitor general at the Court.
Details are emerging about aspects of Kagan's arrival in her new job. Temporarily she will occupy Justice Samuel Alito Jr.'s previous chambers, but eventually will take over the office of her predecessor John Paul Stevens. Kagan is bringing her longtime assistant Betsy Henthorne to her new office from the SG's office. And, as we reported here, Kagan has not yet hired her complement of four law clerks.
The ceremony was open to television and to coverage by a pool consisting of photographers but no reporters. But an A-list of Washington officials and Kagan family and friends could be spotted in the crowd and on the guest list.
Among them were Justices Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas and their spouses, and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, as well as retired Justice Stevens. Kagan's brothers Mark and Irving were on hand, as well as several other Kagan relatives.
Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal was on hand, as were former SGs Seth Waxman, Walter Dellinger, Gregory Garre and Paul Clement. Kagan's deputies Edwin Kneedler, Michael Dreeben, and Malcolm Stewart attended, as did numerous associates in the SG's office and longtime staffer Emily Spadoni. Also on the list was Donald Verrilli, a deputy White House counsel who, along with Katyal, is said to be in the running to replace Kagan as SG. Several members of the family of the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, who hired Kagan as a clerk 22 years ago, were at the event, as was Martha Minow, her successor as Harvard Law School dean. White House officials Lisa Brown and Susan Davies were there too, as well as Washington power couple Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein.