Kagan Serves First Day as Justice

New Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s first day had two major milestones: She listened in on one case and recused herself from the other. The first case, Ransom v. FIA Card Services NA, involved whether a debtor in a bankruptcy case could claim “ownership costs” from his payment plan when he owed nothing on the vehicle—meaning there were no direct ownership costs. By some accounts, Kagan participated the most in the case, asking several questions, although she did defer to her more senior colleagues. She recused herself from the second suit, since she has said she will not participate in any cases that involve the Obama administration, due to her time as solicitor general. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has proposed allowing retired justices to sit on the High Court cases where one justice has withdrawn, to prevent a 4-4 tie, but the Supreme Court has not weighed in on it yet.