It was a jarringly mediocre report card for Ms. Kagan, and the torts grade in particular came as a shock to her and to her friends, recalled Jeffrey Toobin, the legal affairs writer for The New Yorker and CNN, who was in Ms. Kagan’s study group. He attributed the result to a “bad day in the exam.”
“She was definitely upset about this torts grade — there was no doubt about it,” Mr. Toobin said. “I remember saying to her that in the larger scheme of things it will not loom very large, and I would say history has vindicated me on that matter.”
Ms. Kagan soon returned to her habitually high level of academic accomplishment: her spring semester report card in 1984 consisted of three A’s and an A-minus. She went on to become supervising editor of the law review, graduate magna cum laude, and clerk for an appeals court judge and a Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall.
Indeed, a transcript she submitted with her application to Justice Marshall, which is included with his papers at the Library of Congress, shows she earned A’s in 17 of the 21 courses for which she received a letter grade. In two more — including an administrative law course, a field in which she would later focus as a scholar — she earned a B-plus.
--Charlie Savage and Lisa Faye Petak, NYT, on an academic turnaround