This article is from the archive of our partner .

As the U.S. Supreme Court decides to take up the White House challenge to Arizona's immigration law today, the high court's newest justice, Elena Kagan, has decided to recused herself from the case. "Justice Elena Kagan will take no part in the decision presumably because she dealt with the issue in her previous job as Solicitor General of the Obama administration," according to ABC News. The problem for Kagan in ruling on the state's supposedly draconian laws -- which for example "requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they detained and suspected of being in the nation illegally," according to Reuters -- is her old job as Obama's solicitor general, the person who represents the U.S. government before the Supreme Court. Before becoming a justice in August 2010 she helped defend the president's position against Arizona's laws, filing, for example, a brief in May 2010 against a 2007 Arizona law that penalized businesses that hired illegal immigrants. That got congressional Republicans riled up during her confirmation hirings last year, as Fox News reported, and today she decided to avoid a mini-controversy by recusing herself. Unfortunately for liberals worried about such recusals whittling away the court's liberal block, Kagan's gig as solicitor general could be following her for a while. There are some calls for her to recuse herself from an even more important case, the one brought by states against Obamacare that the Supreme Court has also agreed to hear, because she defended the law as solicitor.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.