New Justice Elena Kagan’s first written ruling was released, an 18-page opinion in a bankruptcy-tax case, the first arguments in the court’s term that began in October.
The ruling was not a blockbuster.
In her opinion, Kagan said a debtor who does not make loan or lease payments may not take a car ownership deduction.
She ruled against Jason Ransom, who filed for bankruptcy in Nevada in 2006. He owned his car, a Toyota Camry, outright, and claimed a $471 per month deduction for car ownership expenses. The trustee and some creditors objected. Kagan agreed with them.
“In short, Ransom may not deduct loan or lease expenses when he does not have any,” wrote Kagan, who was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama and approved by the Senate in August.
The ruling partly turned on interpreting the language of the bankruptcy law, which provides that a debtor may claim only “applicable” expense amounts.