Divine Miss K

C'mon, Your Honors, look lively!

Tonight, as everyone knows, President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address. The speech starts at 9 p.m. (Eastern time). For real-time reactions over Twitter, follow @ATLblog, @DavidLat, @ElieNYC, and @StaciZaretsky. For a post-speech wrap-up, check Above the Law, either late tonight or tomorrow morning.

For Supreme Court nerds, here’s the perennial question: How many members of SCOTUS will show up at the SOTU? Feel free to make your guesses, in the comments.

Here’s some historical perspective to inform your speculation….

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Justice Alito is going to the State of the Union this year? Not true, not true!

Tomorrow night, many of us will tune in to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address — hoping to catch more catfighting than on an episode of Jersey Shore.

Last year’s SOTU did not disappoint drama-seekers. As you may recall, an Article II vs. Article III smackdown took place: President Obama chided the Supreme Court for its Citizens United decision, with six members of the Court sitting a stone’s throw away from him, and Justice Samuel Alito responded by mouthing “not true” at the POTUS.

(Speaking of Citizens United, the decision celebrated its one-year anniversary last week, on January 21. And as Josh Blackman notes, the world has not come to an end, contrary to the dire predictions of distraught liberals. Of course, experts in this area — including some Obama-supporting liberals — told us that Citizens United wasn’t that big a deal.)

Thanks to last year’s juicy Obama v. Alito showdown, numerous commentators have wondered: Will Supreme Court justices attend the State of the Union this year? If so, which ones?

Let’s make some predictions, justice by justice….

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* Awesome diary of a rich wife trying to cut back on expenses. [Going Concern]

* Justice Elena Kagan — who currently lives in D.C., and apparently plans to stay there — was called for jury duty by the District. She wasn’t seated, since we don’t let supremely qualified people sit on juries. [ABC News]

* Bros at George Washington have been charged with being bros. Given what I think about bullying, you can imagine how little tolerance I have for anti-hazing laws. [Jezebel]

* Real prison time for a virtual bully. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Elective leg amputation? Somebody’s been watching too much House. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* Is patent law so easy a caveman could do it? Probably not — but a 15-year-old has a shot. [Kansas City Star]


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?

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I think you just have to do what makes you feel comfortable. In my real life I’m not a frilly, lacy person. Some of the things people wear just struck me as not something I felt comfortable with.

— Justice Elena Kagan, explaining why she doesn’t accessorize her black robe with a jabot (that frilly neck doily that Justice Ginsburg wears), in a recent C-SPAN interview.

As of yesterday, Justice Elena Kagan had not hired her four law clerks for October Term 2010, as reported by Tony Mauro in the National Law Journal. But that was then, and this is now.

Justice Kagan, who was sworn in on Saturday, isn’t wasting any time in getting her chambers up and running. Lady Kaga has hired her four little monsters for OT 2010.

Just as Justice Sonia Sotomayor did last year, Justice Kagan is hiring outgoing Supreme Court clerks — i.e., clerks who just finished up with their justices — to ease her transition. Out of her four clerks for the upcoming Term, three also clerked on the Court in the Term just ended (October Term 2009).

Not surprisingly, the former dean of Harvard Law School bleeds Crimson. At least two of Justice Kagan’s four clerks are HLS graduates. One is a graduate of Yale Law School (the alma mater of Justice Kagan’s late father). (We’re still waiting for the name and law school of the fourth clerk.)

UPDATE: We’ve learned the name of the fourth Kagan clerk. She’s also a Harvard Law grad, leaving Justice Kagan with three out of four clerks from HLS. More details after the jump.

So who will be joining the Divine Miss K in the heavenly confines of One First Street?

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As I noted this morning on Twitter, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is looking like a million bucks these days. And this should come as no surprise, since she’s worth a million bucks — and then some.

Recently I examined the financial disclosure form filed by Elena Kagan last year, when she was nominated for Solicitor General. It showed the Divine Miss K with a divine net worth — just over $1 million (as of January 2009). That may not put her in Biglaw partner territory, but for someone who has spent most of her career in government service or academia, Kagan has done quite well for herself. (She’s also doing much better than most ATL readers; according to our reader poll, over 40 percent of you have negative net worths.)

And in the past year, despite her taking a pay cut when she left Harvard Law School to become SG, and despite the economic downturn, Kagan’s net worth has jumped — significantly. Just like Lady Gaga, Lady Kaga is beautiful, dirty, rich.

How rich? Let’s take a look at Elena Kagan’s latest financial disclosure form, submitted to the Senate earlier this week….

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