Kagan, Sotomayor say Supreme Court must steer clear of politics to protect legitimacy

On the eve of a Senate vote likely to result in the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, two of the three sitting female justices said the court must guard its own reputation for being impartial, neutral and fair. Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor shared concerns that widespread polarization in the country’s political environment could affect public perceptions of the court’s legitimacy.

Speaking at a question-and-answer session during a conference at Princeton University dedicated to celebrating women, Kagan and Sotomayor did not directly address the prospect of Kavanaugh’s confirmation but said there was value to maintaining a “middle position” on the court’s bench.

“This is a really divided time,” Kagan said. “Part of the court’s strength and part of the court’s legitimacy depends on people not seeing the court the way they see the rest of the governing structures of the country now.”

Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the U.S. Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan recieve applause during Princeton University's
Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan (R), Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the U.S., recieve applause during Princeton University’s “She Roars: Celebrating Women at Princeton” conference in Princeton, New Jersey, U.S., October 5, 2018.

Their pre-scheduled appearance at the “She Roars” conference came just hours after Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-Virginia, announced they would support…

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