A New York Bloc on the Supreme Court





The Supreme Court has some justices who are liberals and some who are conservatives. It has some who see themselves as strict constructionists and some who probably do not.
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Times Topics: Elena Kagan | U.S. Supreme Court

And then it has the justices who grew up riding the subway and the ones who grew up turning right on red.

It has the justice who was the treasurer of the Go-Getters Club at James Madison High School in Brooklyn. It has the justice who watched “Perry Mason” on television in a housing project in the Bronx and decided that the star defense lawyer was less important than the judge. It has the justice who took part in a junior military training program at Xavier High School in Manhattan and carried his rifle home on the train to Queens.

If the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court is confirmed, she would join three others in a distinct bloc. For the first time in the court’s history, said William Treanor, the dean of Fordham Law School, it would have four justices who grew up in New York City.

The four are a portrait of the city, each carrying distinct New York traits to Washington. “Kagan is so Manhattan, Scalia is so Queens, Ginsburg is so Brooklyn and Sotomayor is so Bronx,” said Joan Biskupic, the author of a biography of Justice Antonin Scalia. “They adopted in their identities the whole New York sensibility.”

Only Staten Island — “the forgotten borough,” as a woman who answered the telephone in the borough president’s office described it on Tuesday — would be without a justice to call its own if the Senate confirms Ms. Kagan....



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