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'Dynamic' duo of Kagan, Sotomayor add vigor to court

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WASHINGTON — After each Supreme Court appointment in recent years, the arguments before the justices have gotten more energetic and forceful. Now, the two newest justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, are changing that dynamic even further — and offering a glimpse of how they could reshape the court's liberal wing.

Sotomayor is far more talkative than was David Souter, the justice she succeeded. Yet she also is asking more pointed questions that reveal her thoughts on the law and her fact-based approach. "Slow down from the rhetoric and give me concrete details," she urged one lawyer.

Kagan jumps in more regularly, too, than the man who preceded her, John Paul Stevens. She immediately has developed a pattern of piercing questions. Stevens would sometimes gently suggest a point of view, but Kagan more directly lets her colleagues know her line of reasoning and often lays out the liberal viewpoint.


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