I just spoke to a Washington Post reporter who is writing a piece on Elena Kagan that will appear if (consistently with the prevailing rumors) she is nominated. There's a decent chance that I will be quoted in the article if it appears, as in interviews like this I find myself having a fairly candid and unguarded style.
What I had to say was quite favorable to her, simply because that reflects my view. I noted that some academics (such as me) are by nature abstract, at times abstruse, art-for-art's-sake ideas-loving types, while others are advocates for their ideological viewpoints, but Kagan was in neither of these groups. Rather, she is a person of great judgment and common sense who relishes above all "thinking like a lawyer." In an academic environment, the University of Chicago Law School, where they prefer Type 1 above and tolerate Type 2, she garnered enormous personal respect even though (a) her general type is less in fashion in the contemporary legal academic world, and (b) they're a tough crowd at Chicago - by no means do they respect everyone.
I then drew an invidious comparison in terms of garnering respect at the University of Chicago Law School, admittedly based on hearsay rather than my personal knowledge, and we'll see if it appears in the article. Let's just say for present purposes that Justice Scalia was not, it is my understanding, considered anywhere close to being as intelligent, interesting, or intellectually honest as the other leading conservative intellectuals at Chicago in that era. I've always been amused by the grand airs he puts on because I know how they looked at him (across the ideological spectrum) in Chicago back in the day.