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In Academia, Kagan Wrote Far Less Than Peers

Publication Date: 
May 18, 2010
The National Law Journal
Marcia Coyle

Dean Larry Kramer is mentioned in this article on Elena Kagan's academic scholarship for his body of work on constitutional law written during his tenure as a professor and dean. Marcia Coyle of reports:

President Barack Obama last week presented U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan as one of the nation's "foremost legal minds." But is the former Harvard Law dean actually scholar-lite?

Some academic and political commentators questioned her slim body of scholarship given her 14 years in academia -- eight as a teacher and nearly six as dean.

It is not just the number of her scholarly articles -- essentially four major and three lesser ones -- that bothers Kagan skeptics, such as Paul Campos of the University of Colorado School of Law. More important, said Campos, is the lack of any discernible personal opinions on the issues addressed.

While teaching at the University of Chicago and Harvard, Kagan clearly did not write as much or reveal as much personal opinion in her writings as many of her peers at major law schools did before becoming deans, even during a similar time frame. Some of them moved into the top job with nationally recognized credentials and clear views, such as constitutional scholars, like Larry Kramer, dean of Stanford Law School, or as environmental scholars, like New York University's Richard Revesz. Others, such as Harold Koh, former dean of Yale Law School, not only churned out books and articles but wrote legal briefs and argued cases in the U.S. Supreme Court.


Stanford's Kramer graduated from law school two years earlier than Kagan and, like her, was a Supreme Court clerk. Unlike Kagan, he produced more than a dozen articles in his first four years of teaching. But he said he wrote only one article in his first or second year as dean, "effectively based on leftover research."