In its first day with Elena Kagan on the bench, the Supreme Court yesterday rejected efforts by some 9/11 families to salvage World Trade Center debris possibly containing the remains of their loved ones.
The families had appealed to keep the 223,000 tons of materials they say city officials didn’t properly screen for human ashes from being dumped in a Staten Island landfill. They want the debris buried in a cemetery. Lower federal courts had rejected the suit.
No remains have been found for 1,100 of 2,752 people killed at the site, court records show.
The case was one of thousands of appeals the high court refused to hear yesterday as it returned from summer recess.
The court has agreed to hear 51 cases, but Kagan, a Manhattan native, has recused herself from 25 of them, citing conflicts of interest arising from her former post as U.S. solicitor general. Her withdrawals create the potential for the nine-justice court to split four-four on some decisions. The high court term had a historic opening with three women serving for the first time.
Kagan, 50, joins Bronx native Sonia Sotomayor and Queens native Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Kagan succeeded Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in June after 34 years on the high court. Kagan probably will not change the court’s balance of power, which is widely seen as remaining closely divided with a five-member conservative majority and four liberals.
The court will consider cases on anti-gay protests at military funerals, violent video games and immigration law during its new term.