Chief Justice John Roberts and new Justice Elena Kagan after her swearing-in on Aug. 7. Handout/Getty Images North America hide caption itoggle caption Handout/Getty Images North America It's All Politics As Kagan Joins, Federal Courts' Roles Rise In Importance August 9, 2010 This summer, federal judges have once again been horning in on issues of great interest and high stakes. Gay marriage. Immigration. The health care law. State-federal legal battles are on the rise.