Standing in the East Room with incoming Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, President Obama declared it “a good day.”
The President joked that while the former solicitor general “may be feeling a twinge of sadness about giving up the title of ‘general,’ a cool title, I think we can all agree that “Justice Elena Kagan” has a pretty nice ring to it.”
The President spoke to the historical significance of Kagan’s appointment, noting that “for the first time in history, there will be three women serving on our nation’s highest court.”
The President declared her appointment, “one of the most exhilarating developments, a sign of progress that I relish not just as a father who wants limitless possibilities for my daughters, but as an American proud that our Supreme Court will be a little more inclusive, a little more representative, more reflective of us as a people than ever before. And it is yet another example of how our union has become more, not less, perfect over time — more open, more fair, more free.”
He continued, “That’s not just a matter of accident or chance. While those founding truths about liberty and equality may have been self-evident, they were not self-perpetuating. And it is the members of our highest court who do the vital and constant work of ensuring that they endure. And that’s work that I’m confident Elena will carry out with integrity, with humanity and an abiding commitment to the ideal inscribed above our courthouse doors: “Equal justice under the law.”
Mr. Obama noted that Kagan would be in good company with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy, who were both seated in the audience.
“Justice Kennedy assured me that he would keep Justice Kagan out of trouble. And Justice Ginsburg assured me that she would get Justice Kagan into trouble,” the President said with a laugh, “So we’ll see how that works out.”
Elana Kagan was all smiles as the President spoke. She seemed moved by the moment as she took the podium. She thanked the President, his staff and entire Senate for giving her “respectful and expeditious consideration.”
“I also very much enjoyed meeting with 83 senators — but really, who’s counting?” she quipped.
Kagan called her new job not just “not just an honor. Much more importantly, it is an obligation — an obligation to protect and preserve the rule of law in this country, an obligation to uphold the rights and liberties afforded by our remarkable Constitution, and an obligation to provide what the inscription on the Supreme Court building promises: Equal justice under law.”
Upon concluding her remarks, she rushed off the stage, but the President gestured for her to come back to pose for more pictures.
“Soak it in. I’m not sure they’re allowed to clap in the Supreme Court,” he told her with a laugh.