LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A Justice from the nation's highest court stopped in the Derby City Monday as she received one of the top honors from the University of Louisville.
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan has been awarded the U of L Brandeis School of Law's Brandeis Medal.
The U of L Brandeis School of Law's Brandeis Medal is a tribute to Louis Brandeis, a former Supreme Court Justice from Louisville.
This year's recipient has quite the connection to the Late Louisvillian.
“Justice Douglass's direct predecessor was Justice Brandeis, so I sit in what I think of and what most people think of as the Brandeis seat. It's really kind of remarkable, this is the centennial that in 100 years only four justices have sat in that seat,” Justice Kagan explained.
It is given to those who champion ideals of individual liberty and public service.
“I love Justice Stephen my immediate predecessor but I think of that seat as the Brandeis seat and if you can live up to that, then you're doing something pretty awesome,” Kagan added.
What Justice Elena Kagan may not know, is the future servants of the court she's impacting right now.
“We were watching a Judge show and my mom said that's going to be you, you're going to be a Judge and you would be surprised how much that really stuck and impacted my life,” Mashayla Hays, a Central High grad and U of L Law Student, said.
Hays presented Justice Kagan with a gift, a shirt with one of Muhammad Ali's greatest quotes, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Kagan also received a pair of gloves during her ceremony as well.
“We can always be a role model and we are always a mentor to somebody that we don't know and I think Justice Kagan really exemplified that,” Hays states happily.
Current and future leaders in various fields make up the audience, Kagan’s visit may very well be the spark that some never knew they needed.
Justice Kagan's law career goes back almost 3 decades, she even served as a clerk under Justice Thurgood Marshall during the 1987 term. She also reflected on her great friendship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, telling the crowd about their hunting days once on the Court and knowing each other due to them both having connections to Harvard Law School.