As a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court prepares to begin its next term in less than a month, Associate Justice Elena Kagan said during an appearance in Manhattan that the judicial system loses legitimacy when judges are perceived as political actors rather than fair arbiters of the law.

“If we go around doing politics, doing policy, imposing our personal preferences on people— why should anybody accept that?” Kagan said on Monday night in discussion with Judge Alison Nathan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit hosted at the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center.