Oct 22, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Justice Elena Kagan urges judges to "be humble" when issuing rulings

Justice Elena Kagan poses for an official portrait on Oct. 7 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Justice Elena Kagan emphasized the importance of precedence Friday, and emphasized the need for the Supreme Court to remain humble.

Driving the news: "It's a kind of hubris to say, we're just throwing that all out because we think we know better, and so that's important," Kagan said at the University of Pennsylvania in a livestreamed interview with school president Liz Magill.

  • Kagan discussed her favorite opinion she has written, Kimble v. Marvel, in 2015, which maintains that stare decisis, or adhering to a precedent, is crucial for the court.

What she's saying: "If you have judges and they come on to a court and they say we're sort of overthrowing the apparatus, and we're overthrowing legal rules, it starts not to look like law anymore," she said.

  • "The law should be safe, and judges should be humble," Kagan said, adding that it prevents the court from becoming politicized.
  • "There are a lot of reasons why judges are not humble. There's a lot that happens to me in my daily life to make me not humble," she said. "This is a doctrine that sort of forces judges to be humble."

Between the lines: Since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, Kagan has been critical of the current court's lack of reverence for the doctrine, per Court House News.

  • In her first public appearance after Roe was overturned earlier this year, Kagan warned that it would be "a dangerous thing for a democracy" if the Supreme Court lost the confidence of the public.
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