Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan Accepts U of L Brandeis Medal

Oct 25, 2016

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan
Credit Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

United States Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was in Louisville Monday to accept the Brandeis Medal, awarded by the University of Louisville.

It’s named in honor of Louisville native, Justice Louis Brandeis, who began serving on the high court a century ago.

Kagan says she’s long admired Brandeis, especially the prescience of his judicial opinions.

“He really had a sense of like, what was coming down the pike,” she said. “Sometimes decades away. The best example of this is his dissent in ‘Olmstead,’ where he basically, there he is in like 1920 or something, and he’s foreseeing the surveillance state that we’re now thinking about.”

Kagan was also interviewed by two U of L law school professors, but did not discuss any specific cases from her tenure on the court.

She did discuss judicial philosophy, saying she believes the country’s founders drafted the Constitution with future generations in mind.

“They wrote a Constitution that didn’t talk in specifics, that talked in generalities, understanding that a Constitution was meant to be for the ages, and that what counted were the principles and not a specific application,” said Kagan.

You can listen to the interview in the audio player above.

Several other current and former Supreme Court Justices have been awarded the Brandeis Medal. Kagan has served on the court since 2010.

Kagan, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Obama and confirmed in 2010, also spoke about her close friendship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died early this year.