Justice Kagan at Oral Argument

At the first oral argument this morning, Justice Elena Kagan was very much in the thick of things. Based on my skim of the transcript, Kagan asked five questions for the Petitioner and five questions for the Respondent. Here was Kagan’s first question:

JUSTICE KAGAN: Mr. Burke, if we could stay with this. The $471 is derived by looking at the average loan or lease payments nationwide. Then in addition to that we know that the IRS has a separate category for operating costs that is meant to reflect costs of having a car that are not your loan and lease payments. So between those two things, why wouldn’t we say that ownership costs means your loan and lease payments, but operating costs means your other costs of having a car, and that you get the operating costs if you have a car but don’t make loan and lease payments and you get the ownership costs if you do make loan and lease payments?

For those who just can’t wait to find out the answer, read the entire transcript here.