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Kagan launches sold-out O’Connor Speaker Series

Alycin Bektesh
Aspen Public Radio

Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan headlined the inaugural Sandra Day O’Connor Speaker Series at the Aspen Institute Monday.

She and Moderator Margaret Marshall, retired chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, took the Greenwald Pavilion stage to a standing ovation.

The women spoke about the influence of O’Connor on the careers of the “next generation” of female lawyers. Kagan described O’Connor as a woman who liked to get her own way, and told stories of her days as a clerk for the court, working for Thurgood Marshall, when she would pass O’Connor in the halls.

Kagan also offered insight into the closed-door deliberations that justices have after hearing a case. She said she thinks the public would be pleased.

“People's minds change or people find alternatives that they didn't know existed by listening to other people so there is pretty vigourous and I think really valuable debate and discussion,” said Kagan.

Kagan told the sold-out audience that she believes all of the justices are able to keep their personal opinions out of their judgements, and stressed that there are far more unanimous decisions than the court is given credit for.

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