Like the now-retired Stevens, the former Harvard law professor often waits well into the argument before posing a "what if" question. She also deftly plays off points that were raised by her colleagues.
Cool and cerebral, she often cites Kennedy's comments in phrasing questions, seeming to probe for a point of agreement. When Kennedy commented that the judges in the California case may have gone too far in their order, Kagan picked up the point. Perhaps the state should be given as long as five years to resolve its overcrowding problem, not just the two years set by the three-judge panel, she said.
Off the bench, she has warmly praised Roberts, Kennedy and Scalia. As Harvard law dean, Kagan hosted events to honor Scalia and Kennedy, and she was known as a liberal who had good relationships with conservatives on the faculty.
In Washington, her efforts to build friendships with her colleagues have gone beyond the traditional legal events. On one weekend in late October, she joined Scalia at a Virginia gun club to try her hand at skeet shooting. Kagan reports that she wasn't good at it, but is inclined to try again.