“[Are you] suggesting that Princeton, Harvard and NYC isn’t the totality of real life?” former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who followed the same academic path, joked in an e-mail when asked about the women’s parallel tracks…

Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice, who worked with Kagan in the Clinton White House, said he saw her as bringing a different kind of “real world” experience to the bench: a role as a senior policymaker from her days as deputy director of Clinton’s Domestic Policy Council.

“Not everybody was born in a log cabin that they built with their own hands, but it is a level of political engagement that is unusual for this court,” he said. “The last one who comes close is Sandra Day O’Connor.”