Kagan Sworn In As Supreme Court Justice

Chief Justice John Roberts administers the judicial oath to Elena Kagan. i i

Chief Justice John Roberts administers the judicial oath to Elena Kagan at the Supreme Court Building in Washington on Saturday. The Bible is held by Jeffrey Minear, counselor to the chief justice. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

itoggle caption J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Chief Justice John Roberts administers the judicial oath to Elena Kagan.

Chief Justice John Roberts administers the judicial oath to Elena Kagan at the Supreme Court Building in Washington on Saturday. The Bible is held by Jeffrey Minear, counselor to the chief justice.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Elena Kagan became the nation's newest U.S. Supreme Court justice Saturday, amid cheers from family and friends as she completed her oath of office.

Kagan, 50, becomes only the fourth woman to serve on the nation's highest court. For the first time in history, the nine-member body will have three female justices sitting on the bench.

"I, Elena Kagan, do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich," Kagan began. She repeated the lines after Chief Justice John Roberts, who administered the second of two oaths, her left hand placed on a Bible belonging to Justice Stephen Breyer.

When she finished, she clasped her hands and grinned as friends and family erupted in a standing ovation. Among those attending the ceremony in the marbled building were Kagan's two brothers and retired Justice John Paul Stevens, whom she replaces. Current Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor also were there. She'll join them after Oct. 1, when she's formally seated on the court.

Kagan was confirmed Thursday by the U.S. Senate on a 63 to 37, mostly partisan vote. Many Republicans who voted against her cited her lack of judicial experience, among other issues. Five Republicans broke party ranks to support her. Only one Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted against her.

Kagan becomes the 112th U.S. Supreme Court justice. Her appointment is not expected to change the court's current philosophical balance.