The Detroit News reports:
The Supreme Court's newest justice said Friday she isn't fazed by the political controversy and protests surrounding high-profile cases such as this summer's decision on the Affordable Care Act.
In fact, Elena Kagan says, it doesn't affect any of her colleagues in their decisions.
"I don't think it makes much difference in the way we operate, if at all," Kagan told a group of 300 students, faculty and visitors at the University of Michigan's Power Center for the Performing Arts. "I would never say we go about our lives oblivious to it, but I don't think it affects at all the way we go about the work."
Kagan, a former U.S. solicitor general, was appointed to the nation's highest court by President Barack Obama in May 2010. She is the 112th justice appointed to the court and its fourth female member.
Kagan gave the law students a behind-closed-doors look at the court's day-to-day operations and addressed concerns over whether the court has become politicized.
"There is not a single member of this court at a single time who has cast a ballot based on 'Do I like this president or not?' 'Do I like this legislation or not?' 'Will this help the Democrats or not?'" she said.
Kagan acknowledged that it might seem the court has political leanings because some of the justices' decisions can be predictable in the roughly 80 cases they see a year. She said she would like to see more "unpredictability" in the decision making.
As for relationships between the court's members, Kagan said the atmosphere is "in some ways, the most intimate, warmest institution I've participated in."
"Sometimes you read these opinions and you think 'they must hate each other.' It's just not true," she said. "We have enormous respect for each other and a feeling that we are all operating in good faith."
Plus, she added, there are always new cases to discuss.
"If you take this stuff personally, this is going to be a long life tenure," she said.