The national media have ignored a fascinating development, one worth keeping an eye on: Justice Elena Kagan has taken up recreational shooting and hunting. She likes it so much that she has moved from small game (quail) to big game (elk). Wade Payne of the Knoxville News-Sentinel described an October 19th informal talk given by Justice Kagan at the University of Tennessee:
Witty and affable, Kagan often kept the crowd chuckling Friday with her preference for comic book hero movies and American Top-40 music - "it keeps you in touch with the people," she said -and tales of learning to shoot fowl with Scalia.
The shared hobby started during her confirmation hearings in 2010 when Kagan told a senator who was probing for her views on gun rights that she had never been hunting, but would ask Scalia to take her if confirmed. When she officially landed on the court, Kagan told Scalia about the promise she made. Amused, he first taught her to shoot clay pigeons before graduating to quail.
"Last spring, he said to me, 'It's time to move on to the big game,' " she said, adding that she would miss today's football game in Neyland Stadium to hunt antelope with Scalia in Wyoming.
Despite sometimes divergent viewpoints, Kagan described the camaraderie among the justices, including eating lunch together when in conference or hearing oral arguments and going to the opera with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who "has great seats."
As the last justice to be appointed, Kagan is also the last to speak when the group meets to devise rulings on cases. She also is the one who must take notes, since no secretaries or clerks join the court when they meet in conference.
"From the first minute, my colleagues made totally clear that anything they could do to help me get my sea legs they would do, and I took many of them up on their offers," Kagan said.
Rosslyn Smith comments: "That's a big step outside the Ivy League bubble. Recreational shooting can become addicting. Appreciation for one part of the Constitution can also lead to appreciation for others."
In the unlikely event Justice Kagan develops a new appreciation of the Second Amendment, it would constitute a sort of reverse "Greenhouse effect" - the term coined by Thoomas Sowell to describe the process by which new conservative justices get coopted by the carrot of favorable media coverage, especially by now-retired New York Times Supreme Court correspondent Linda Greenhouse.
In the wake of the disastrous election, and the prospect of President Obama changing the complexion of the Court should any of the conservative justices leave the court, we can use all thegood news we can find. Keep your eyes on Justice Kagan.