Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan acknowledged that she might not have been selected to the highest court in America had she not been a woman, during a conversation at the University of Tennessee with UT Law Dean Doug Blaze, Friday.
Responding to Blaze’s prompt requesting she address the challenges she has faced as a women in the legal profession, Kagan, the fourth woman to serve on the Supreme Court, spoke about the barriers her predecessors broke down so that she would able to progress as far as she has.
“I feel pretty lucky that I haven’t had to mount all that many barriers or leap over all that many hurdles that were there because I was a woman and I think that’s because at the time I came along where a lot of the women who preceded me had done a lot of the hard work to make sure that women and men were evaluated equally and had the same opportunities as each other,” Kagan said, in a video published at the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Kagan explained that there have been generational differences between the women on the court, each having to confront different challenges — noting that the barriers Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor overcame were “inspirational.”
“They just pushed through it all,” she said, “and they somehow managed to have these absolutely remarkable careers had remarkable families at the same time. And I think that women like that, you know, did the hard work for women like me coming 25 years later.”
Kagan added that while there are still some struggles, there are benefits to being a woman in her profession, acknowledging that she might not have been tapped as a Supreme Court Justice had she not been a woman.
“To tell you the truth there were also things that I got because I was a woman,” Kagan continued. “I mean I’m not sure I would be sitting here, I’m not sure that I would have been President Obama’s nominee if I weren’t a woman and if he wasn’t as committed as he was to ensuring that there was diversity on the Supreme Court.”
Kagan concluded that women have come exceedingly far and owe a lot to women like Justices Ginsberg and O’Connor who came before.