Elena Kagan Becomes Law Clerk For Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court

she clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court.

(Justice Marshall, ascended to the court after serving as solicitor general.) Justice Marshall called her, Kagan once wrote, “to my face and I imagine also behind my back, ‘Shorty.’ ”

In 1987 she moved on to clerk for Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, who nicknamed her "Shorty."

By 1987, as the Rehnquist court was moving to the right, Justice Marshall was “in his decline and alienated, marginalized” and, in hiring clerks like Ms. Kagan, “looking for really bright people to kind of put a new charge in him” and to help him write dissents, said Juan Williams, a Marshall biographer.

“She didn’t come to him because she was necessarily of like mind, although she was coming out of the same political milieu,” Mr. Williams said.

Justice Marshall nicknamed Ms. Kagan “Shorty” and sometimes referred to her as “Little Bits,” though they all got called “knucklehead” from time to time, recalled Harry Litman, another clerk that year. The musty chambers were crammed with books, African artifacts, red Naugahyde chairs and ungainly desks.

You know, I was a 27-year-old pipsqueak, and I was working for an 80-year-old giant in the law, and a person who, let us be frank, had very strong jurisprudential and legal views.”

— Elena Kagan