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Full-Text Articles in Law

What Is A Lien? Lessons From Municipal Bankruptcy, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2015

What Is A Lien? Lessons From Municipal Bankruptcy, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

From the outset of Detroit’s bankruptcy, an unlikely set of issues kept coming up: What exactly is a lien? Who has a property interest or its equivalent in bankruptcy? Did general obligation bondholders have special status, due to Detroit’s promise to use its “full faith and credit” for repayment? What about Detroit’s pension beneficiaries, who could point to a provision in the Michigan Constitution stating that accrued pension benefits cannot be diminished or impaired. In this Article, I explore these and related issues that have arisen in Detroit and other recent municipal bankruptcy cases.

Part I of ...


From Chrysler And General Motors To Detroit, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2015

From Chrysler And General Motors To Detroit, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In the past five years, three of the most remarkable bankruptcy cases in American history have come out of Detroit: the bankruptcies of Chrysler and General Motors in 2009, and of Detroit itself in 2012. The principal objective of this Article is simply to show that the Grand Bargain at the heart of the Detroit bankruptcy is the direct offspring of the bankruptcy sale transactions that were used to restructure Chrysler and GM. The proponents of Detroit’s “Grand Bargain” never would have dreamed up the transaction were it not for the federal government-engineered carmaker bankruptcies. The Article’s second ...


When Should Bankruptcy Be An Option (For People, Places Or Things)?, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2014

When Should Bankruptcy Be An Option (For People, Places Or Things)?, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

When many people think about bankruptcy, they have a simple left-to-right spectrum of possibilities in mind. The spectrum starts with personal bankruptcy, moves next to corporations and other businesses, and then to municipalities, states, and finally countries. We assume that bankruptcy makes the most sense for individuals; that it makes a great deal of sense for corporations; that it is plausible but a little more suspect for cities; that it would be quite odd for states; and that bankruptcy is unimaginable for a country.

In this Article, I argue that the left-to-right spectrum is sensible but mistaken. After defining “bankruptcy ...


Can Pensions Be Restructured In (Detroit’S) Municipal Bankruptcy?, David A. Skeel Jr. Oct 2013

Can Pensions Be Restructured In (Detroit’S) Municipal Bankruptcy?, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper, which was written as a White Paper for the Federalist Society, describes and assesses the question whether public employee pensions can be restructured in bankruptcy, with a particular focus on Detroit. Part I gives a brief overview both of the treatment of pensions under state law, and of the Michigan law governing the Detroit pensions. Part II explains the legal argument for restructuring an underfunded pension in bankruptcy. Part III considers the major federal constitutional objections to restructuring, Part IV discusses arguments based on the Michigan Constitution, and Part V assesses several Chapter 9 arguments against restructuring. None ...