The Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Bankruptcy Section recently held a program discussing the three recent bankruptcy-related Supreme Court decisions: Law v. Siegel (a case regarding surcharge, which was discussed on this blog in a previous post by Courtney Pozmantier), Executive Benefits Insurance Agency v. Arkison (In re Bellingham) (redux of Stern v. Marshall), and Clark v. Rameker (regarding inherited IRAs and exemptions). The program was presented by Ken Klee and Dan Bussel and moderated by Greenberg Glusker’s own Brian Davidoff.
While the three cases that were discussed address different issues, the cases were linked by common themes. All three cases were decided unanimously by the Supreme Court — no split decisions or plurality decisions here! Also, all three opinions made use of textual analysis. The panelists at the program speculated that perhaps unanimity came at the cost of squarely addressing key issues. The Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in the Wellness International case, in order to resolve issues left open by the Bellingham, supports this contention. The panel also discussed the possibility that the use of textual analysis, which is advocated by some conservative Justices, may have been necessary for unanimity. This is supported by the fact that Justice Sotomayor incorporated textual analysis into her opinion in Clark v. Rameker.
The program went on to address how these three cases will impact the practice of bankruptcy, including how courts will deal with Stern v. Marshall-type claims in the future. A DVD of the program is available from the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s website. By purchasing and viewing the DVD, attorneys can earn 1 hour of MCLE credit.