How Two Supreme Court Justices Became Hunting Buddies

Daniel Xu

Outdoor Hub

It is hard to picture Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia as friends, and even harder to imagine the two spending time together in Wyoming’s wilds.

Relative newcomer and liberal-leaning Kagan was appointed to her post by President Barack Obama in 2010 to replace departing Justice John Paul Stevens. Scalia has been seated since his appointment by Reagan in 1986, and is a cornerstone of the Court’s conservative wing. So what do these two justices have in common besides seemingly disagreeing on every issue? According to Kagan, she and Scalia take time to go bird hunting several times a year, and even made a trip to Wyoming in hopes of bagging deer.

“We disagreed on a lot of stuff, and we’re going to disagree on a lot of stuff but I enjoy every moment I spend with him,” Kagan said of Scalia during an interview with Jeff Rosen, president of the National Constitution Center.

It all began just shortly before Kagan’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

“I met with about 80 senators individually and quite a lot of them, both Republicans and Democrats, ask you about your views on the Second Amendment,” she said in the interview. “But because you don’t say anything about your views on anything, when they ask you, they’ll try to figure out what your views on the Second Amendment are likely to be and they’ll say, ‘Well, have you ever held a gun? Have you ever gone hunting? Do you know anybody who’s gone hunting?’ And you know me, Jeff, I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and this was not something we really did, you know.”

Kagan did decide though, that hunting was something she had to experience. As a joke, she told the inquisitive senators that she would “ask Justice Scalia to take me hunting” if she ever got confirmed. Sure enough, Kagan followed through on her promise and went to Scalia after her confirmation proceedings.

“He thought it was a total crackup,” she recalled.

However, he did not say no. It is, Kagan states, a remarkable example of how two Justices with different politics can still be friends. At the end of last year Kagan and Scalia went to Wyoming to pursue deer and antelope and during the trip Kagan bagged her first deer.

The two plan on going duck hunting sometime in the future.

You can watch the full interview here: