Puerto Rico is a “State” under U.S. Bankruptcy Law: Foreshadowing Bankruptcy-Type Relief for Other “States”?

By Donald L. Swanson "We must decide whether Puerto Rico is a “State” for purposes of this [bankruptcy] pre-emption provision. We hold that it is." --Commonwealth of Puerto Rico v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust, U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 15-233 (Decided June 13, 2016). The Bankruptcy Code definition of "State" is contained in Sec. 101(52) and... Continue Reading →

What’s With Puerto Rico and Its Relationship to the USA?

By Donald L. Swanson Have you ever wondered about the nature and history of Puerto Rico's relationship with the United States of America? After all, it’s located 1,600 miles beyond Miami and is separated from the U.S. mainland by the likes of Cuba, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, Haiti and Dominican Republic. So . .... Continue Reading →

“Public Rights” Doctrine for Bankruptcy Court Jurisdiction, While Always Tenuous, Is Now Dead and Buried

By Donald L. Swanson "Public rights" doctrine enters the bankruptcy scene thirty five years ago in the four-Justice plurality opinion of Northern Pipeline v. Marathon Pipe Line, 458 U.S. 50 (1982). Three Justices in that case write an vigorous dissent to such a use of public rights doctrine, while two other Justices concur with the... Continue Reading →

Why Bankruptcy Judges Have a 14-Year Term, Instead of Life Tenure (From Justice White in Northern Pipeline v. Marathon)

By Donald L. Swanson Have you ever wondered why Congress, when it adopted the Bankruptcy Code in 1978, limited the term of service for bankruptcy judges to fourteen years? --This term limitation, established in 28 U.S.C. Sec. 157(a)(1), assures that bankruptcy judges are serving as Article I judges under the U.S. Constitution. Life tenure would... Continue Reading →

Justice Gorsuch’s First Supreme Court Dissent is Scaliaesque on Statute Construction but Non-Scalia on Public Rights Doctrine (Perry v. Merit Systems)

By Donald L. Swanson On June 23, 2017, Neil Gorsuch issues his first dissenting opinion as a Supreme Court Justice. The case is Perry v. Merit Systems Protection Board (Supreme Court Case No. 16-399). It's about statutory procedures for litigating Federal employee claims.  The dissent by Justice Gorsuch illuminates a comparison of ideas with those... Continue Reading →

A Unified Theory of Bankruptcy Court Jurisdiction: Wellness International v. Sharif

By Donald L. Swanson Federal courts in the U.S. bankruptcy system have been struggling for decades with the extent and limits of bankruptcy court jurisdiction under the U.S. Constitution. The difficulty begins with Articles I and III of the U.S. Constitution: --Article I, Section 8, says: “The Congress shall have power to . . .... Continue Reading →

Justice Neil Gorsuch Authors His First Opinion as Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

By Donald L. Swanson The case is Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc., U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 16-349, decided June 12, 2017.  The case is on appeal from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The question is whether the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act applies when you “purchase a debt and then try to collect... Continue Reading →

U.S. Congress and Supreme Court Support ADR — But Some Bankruptcy Courts Remain Nonconformist on Mediation

NonconformityBy Donald L. Swanson There is "a kind of 'hostility to arbitration' that led Congress to enact" the Federal Arbitration Act. Kindred Nursing Centers v. Clark, U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 16-32 (decided May 15, 2017). Alternative dispute resolution processes ("ADR") include arbitration and mediation. Arbitration Congress passed the Federal Arbitration Act ("Arbitration Act") to... Continue Reading →

What Happens to Fraudulent Transfer Claims When Barred by Bankruptcy’s Two-Year Statute of Limitations?

By Donald L. Swanson Two Hypotheticals and a Question: First Hypothetical: Debtor makes a fraudulent transfer shortly before filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Chapter 7 Trustee refuses to pursue the fraudulent transfer claim, and the Bankruptcy Code’s two-year statute of limitations expires. Second Hypothetical: Debtor makes a fraudulent transfer shortly before filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.... Continue Reading →

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