On May 10, 2010, Barack Obama made public his second selection for the Supreme Court, nominating Elena Kagan, currently Solicitor General of the United States, to fill the seat of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. It was a canny choice, and a fairly safe one. Kagan, who has never served as a judge, has a thin paper trail of opinions for Republicans to denounce, and easily received confirmation from this same Senate for the post she now holds, just 14 months earlier.
Born 28 April 1960 in New York City, Kagan is the only daughter and middle child of Robert and Gloria Gittelman Kagan, both deceased. Her father was a lawyer and her mother a high school teacher, as are both her brothers. Kagan earned a summa cum laude BA in history from Princeton University in 1981, followed by a master’s in philosophy from England’s Oxford University in 1983, and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1986, where she served as Supervisory Editor of the Harvard Law Review.
After Harvard, Kagan clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (who nicknamed the 5’3″ Kagan “Shorty”) and worked briefly in private practice at the DC law firm of Williams & Connolly. In 1991 she became assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School (alongside one Barack Obama), receiving tenure in 1995, shortly after which she left the university to serve as Associate White House Counsel for Bill Clinton. In 1999, Clinton nominated her to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee never scheduled a hearing, leaving her unconfirmed when Clinton left office. Bush later appointed John Roberts to that seat, with whom Kagan will now serve on the Supreme Court.
In 2003 Kagan was appointed the first female dean of Harvard Law School, where she remained until Obama appointed her the first female Solicitor General of the United States in January 2009. Confirmed March 19 by a vote of 61-31, Kagan’s tenure in that office has been relatively uneventful. She made her first appearance before the Supreme Court in September 2009, arguing the government’s side in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, losing the case. This opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending in political advertising, a decision later famously castigated by Obama in his 2010 State of the Union speech.
There are indications that Kagan may be less liberal than generally supposed. Clinton Library records reveal that in the late 1990s she supported a ban on abortions for all viable fetuses, except in the case of risk to the mother’s health. She has also argued in favor of applying battlefield law (including indefinite detention without trial) to individuals suspected of terrorism, even when their capture occurs outside battle conditions or locales. Many of her views on national security issues and executive power closely echo those of the Bush administration, making her an uncertain ally of the liberal bloc on the Supreme Court in certain crucial areas. If confirmed, Kagan will be the fourth woman to serve on the court and the third to currently serve, marking the first time a full third of the seats will be filled by women. Justice Stevens was the last Protestant on the court, and Kagan, who is Jewish, will make the court’s religious composition one third Jewish and two thirds Catholic.
So far, most of the conservative opposition to Kagan has been based in what has been unfairly characterized as her “throwing army recruiters off campus” at Harvard. In fact, although Kagan supported Harvard’s long-standing ban on military recruitment, based in the Pentagon’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on homosexuals, which she termed “a profound wrong—a moral injustice of the first order,” she acquiesced to the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2003 which allowed recruiters at any academic institution which receives federal funds.
Kagan is unmarried, and her sexuality has become another point of controversy. Officially, Kagan has neither confirmed nor denied rumors of lesbianism, but a female partner was apparently well known and prominent during Kagan’s years at Harvard. The White House hotly denied allegations that Kagan is gay, but the rumors continue. The conservative, Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, in its May 11 cover story on Kagan’s nomination, chose to run a 17-year-old, less-than-feminine photo of her at bat for a female softball team she played with in the early 1990s. Since Kagan’s nomination was for the Supreme Court, not Commissioner of Baseball, the relevance of this depiction can only be surmised.
As with Sonia Sotomayor [see her profile in the July 2009 Daykeeper Journal], Elena Kagan’s birth chart shows a striking assemblage of planets and personal-named asteroids relating to justice, as well as sensitive contacts to galactic points which reflect her character and the course her life has taken.
Born 28 April 1960, Kagan’s 8 Taurus Sun lies conjunct the Maser at 7 Taurus and squares the Black Hole at 9 Leo. The Maser contact promotes controversy, but also has the ability to enthuse or electrify others, a quality which may prove useful in rallying the liberals on the court and finding that elusive fifth vote to form a majority opinion.
The Black Hole Sun can also be effective in garnering support, often denoting a magnetic, compelling individual who pulls others into her orbit almost effortlessly, for good or ill. It also indicates a secretive individual, one who often prefers to operate behind the scenes and is adept at portraying a false front to others, a chameleon-like ability to appear all things to all people. Whether this cuts for or against her presumed liberal bias is difficult to tell, but Elena Kagan is certainly not a simple person to understand or pin down. The Sun also closely opposes natal Neptune at 7 Scorpio retrograde, a further indicator that she tends to dissemble or present an image that is at variance with her true nature.
Asteroids Kaganovich (for Kagan) and Ellen (for Elena) at 9 and 14 Taurus respectively, mirror her given names and conjoin the Sun. Also here is asteroid Justitia, named for the Roman goddess of justice, which at 15 Taurus is closely conjunct both Ellen and the Black Hole at 16 Taurus, indicating the sudden and unexpected rise to judicial prominence of someone who has previously had no experience as a judge. Justitia is also broadly conjunct the Sun and is in square to natal Uranus at 16 Leo, suggesting a less than predictable performance as a jurist, and a tendency to act the maverick, unbound by conventional wisdom on how she will rule.
Natal Saturn concurs in providing a judicial flavor to the chart; at 18 Capricorn retrograde, it conjoins asteroid Themis, named for the Greek goddess of justice, at 23 Capricorn, and opposes TNO Rhadamanthus at 21 Cancer, named for another Greek mythic judicial figure, a judge of the dead noted for his wisdom, scrupulous honesty and inflexible integrity.
Saturn (career) combined with two justice-related modifiers certainly points to judicial preferment; odd that it should have taken so long to manifest, all the moreso as, in a photo for her high school yearbook, Kagan posed in judicial robes, obviously aspiring to this profession at an early age. Saturn also conjoins a Black Hole at 19 Capricorn, emblematic of sudden, unexpected preferment in career, as well as often indicating a workaholic who expends vast amounts of energy in work-related matters. There is also a frequent instance of job-hopping with these natives, among unrelated or barely related fields, as seen in Kagan’s resume of shuttling back and forth between academia and government positions.
Natal Mercury squares Saturn and the Black Hole from 18 Aries, probable source of her more conservative (Saturn) opinions (Mercury), and is itself broadly conjunct TNO Eris at 9 Aries, named for the Greek goddess of strife and discord, suggesting a fractious, disagreeable outcome to her rulings, which may please no one and create more ill feeling than otherwise. Black Hole Mercury also confers a deep, penetrating intelligence, though it may be capricious and difficult to predict or express.
Rhadamanthus further conjoins Sappho at 17 Cancer, named for the noted ancient Greek lesbian poet; while natal Jupiter, the planetary energy most representative of judicial matters and the courts, at 3 Capricorn retrograde opposes asteroid Ganymed at 5 Cancer, named for Zeus’ underage cupbearer and boy-toy, both indicators that we may well be seeing the court’s first gay member. That her sexuality should come into question was perhaps inevitable, since transit Pluto at her nomination exactly opposed natal Ganymed, and will return to conjoin natal Jupiter during her confirmation hearings this summer: any secrets (Pluto) regarding her alleged homosexuality (Ganymed) will likely be revealed, and may impinge upon the politics (Jupiter) of her nomination. Natal Jupiter is also exactly trine natal Pluto at 3 Virgo, so Kagan’s elevation to the highest court in the land may well prove transformative to that body, and the nation at large.
When Barack Obama announced her appointment, at 10 AM EDT on 10 May 2010, in Washington DC, asteroid Kaganovich at 20 Cancer was rising on the 18 Cancer Ascendant, and the horizontal axis accented her natal Sappho/Rhadamanthus opposition to Saturn, which exactly conjoins the Descendant of the chart. Transit Rhadamanthus squares the horizontal axis and natal Saturn from 17 Libra retrograde. Transit Saturn and Uranus oppose from 28 Virgo and 29 Pisces, depicting the struggle between conservative and liberal views which she embodies, and straddle the 1 Aries/Libra MC/IC axis. Also conjoined the MC, elevated in the Tenth House of career, is the transit Moon at 8 Aries, conjoined her natal Eris at 9 Aries and transit Justitia at 5 Aries, showing a woman (Moon) whose sudden prominence in the public eye (MC) causes discontent or division (Eris) by her elevation to Justice of the Supreme Court (Justitia).
The 19 Taurus Sun of the nomination conjoins natal Ellen/Justitia, and is traveling with transit asteroids Helena (another variant of Elena) and Achilles, at 14 and 16 Taurus respectively. Sun/Helena shows the focus on Kagan, and the long-delayed fulfillment of the natal potential for identification as a judge conferred by Ellen/Justitia, finally realized. All these points conjunct the 16 Taurus Black Hole suggest that Obama may have gotten more than he bargained for with this appointment, which may prove to be a weak spot (Achilles) for his administration or its successors.
Mars at 16 Leo is an exact match for Kagan’s natal Uranus. Ruling the Tenth House of career in the nomination chart, it may point to a more entrenched opposition and tougher confirmation battle than is currently anticipated. Transit Jupiter at 25 Pisces conjoins both transit Uranus and transit asteroid Ellen, once more linking judicial matters and Kagan’s personal identity. These also conjoin her natal Mars, reiterating the theme of acrimony or struggle in her nomination process. Jupiter also squares the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius, indicating a political and judicial moment garnering universal or international attention and notice.
As mentioned above, transit Pluto at 5 Capricorn, at its powerful station degree and exactly conjunct a Black Hole, is also exactly opposed Kagan’s natal Ganymed and forms an exact T-Square with transit Justitia, potentially portraying a justice (Justitia) who is gay (Ganymed), but still closeted in secrecy (Pluto). Transit Sappho at 18 Gemini and natal Saturn at 18 Capricorn form an exact Yod, or Finger of Destiny, with transit Venus at the 18 Gemini apex, combining in some fated manner the energies of career (Saturn), womanhood (Venus) and lesbianism (Sappho). Transit Sappho is also closely opposed the 19 Taurus Sun for the nomination, highlighting the issue of Kagan’s sexuality, as evidenced by the Wall Street Journal cover photo and the resulting whisper campaign that dominated the days immediately following Obama’s announcement.
Considered as a whole, this is an uncertain choice—an unpredictable, independent agent who may not be reliable as a liberal stalwart—and could well prove to be a decision made in political haste, and repented of in long, life-appointment leisure.