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Lawyers in the high-profile Michigan affirmative action case argued before eight instead of the usual nine Supreme Court justices on October 15. That is because Justice Elena Kagan recused herself in the case — the latest reminder that three years into her tenure, her prior job as solicitor general is still requiring her to step aside from some matters.

Justice Samuel Alito Jr. has also recused in a significant number of cases already this term, some of which cannot be explained by his stock holdings. An inheritance in 2012 left him with a broader portfolio of stocks in companies involved in cases before the court. But he sold them late last year, making it unlikely that they are the reason for his latest actions.

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