Elena Kagan, Lawyerly Lairs, Money, SCOTUS, Supreme Court

Lawyerly Lairs: Justice Kagan Goes House Hunting

In 2010, music superstar Lady Gaga earned an estimated $64 million. Meanwhile, legal superstar Lady Kaga — aka Justice Elena Kagan, of the United States Supreme Court — earned considerably less.

For the part of 2010, the Divine Miss K served as Solicitor General, earning an annual salary of $165,300. After her confirmation as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, she got a raise, to $213,900 a year — a healthy income, but less than the base salary of a fifth-year associate in a law firm (or the total compensation in 2010, bonus included, of a fourth-year associate). Her income as a justice is also much less than her salary of $437,299 as Harvard Law School dean.

Still, even though Justice Kagan might not be filthy rich, she has done well for herself. At the time of her nomination to SCOTUS, she reported a net worth of around $1.8 million. Given this rosy financial picture, as well as her six-figure income and great job security — it’s rare for a federal judge to be impeached, Judge Porteous notwithstanding — it’s not surprising that Her Honor was recently spotted checking out some pretty pricey D.C. digs.

Where was she looking? And what seems to be her homebuying budget?

Unlike some of her colleagues — such as Chief Justice Roberts, who lives in Maryland, and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito, who live in Virginia — Justice Kagan seems intent on staying within D.C. itself. She currently lives downtown, in a luxury apartment building where she is sometimes sighted carrying pizza. And she was recently seen inspecting a home available for sale, also within the District.

Logan Circle townhouses.

Justice Kagan toured a small townhouse in the Logan Circle neighborhood. It’s a great area; I lived there before moving back to New York in 2008. Logan Circle, a once gritty but now gentrifying (if not completely gentrified) area, is popular with gays and lesbians, as well as young professionals. [FN1]

(A possible downside of the area: it doesn’t have that many restaurants. And Justice Kagan doesn’t seem to cook much — she likes to eat at restaurants, like Equinox, or get food to go, from Merzi or We the Pizza.)

The price tag of the rowhouse that was toured by Lady Kaga? The low seven figures — upon information and belief, over $1 million but under $1.5 million. This makes sense, since Kagan sold her Cambridge home in 2009 for $1.53 million.

What is Justice Kagan like as a potential property purchaser? Exactly the way she is as a justice: “She was with two other women and asked a lot of questions.”

P.S. Alas, the two women weren’t Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor — that would have been too much fabulosity for a single open house. Perhaps Justice Kagan’s companions were the same gal pals she dined with at Equinox.

[FN1] At the risk of sounding New York-centric, Logan Circle is like Hell’s Kitchen: rapidly gentrifying, popular with the LGBT community. Dupont Circle is like Greenwich Village: it used to be pretty gay, but now it’s dominated by affluent yuppies. Georgetown is like the Upper East Side (Fifth and Park Avenues): traditional, rich, and white. Adams-Morgan is like Williamsburg: young, hipster-infested, throbbing with nightlife.

(Feel free to make additional D.C.-to-N.Y. neighborhood comparisons, or disagree with mine, in the comments.)

Hey, isn’t that…: Elena Kagan [Reliable Source / Washington Post]

Earlier: The Eyes of the Law: Justices Eat Pizza Too

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