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Hearings in Congress and Bankruptcy Court--Skeel

            The enormous recent bankruptcies have provided a lot of reasons for a bankruptcy scholar to leave the library and venture out into the real world for a change. I’ve spent more time in New York and Washington in the past month than I ever would have imagined. In addition to conferences and conversations with congressional staff, I had the privilege of testifying at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the auto bankruptcies two weeks ago, and I went to the bankruptcy court in New York last week to watch the first several hours of the hearing on the proposed sale of Chrysler’s assets to New Chrysler. (The bankruptcy court, by the way, is a lovely building—the old Custom House—at the very bottom of Broadway, at the southern tip of Manhattan, and well worth a visit).

            As different as the two venues were, I was struck by an important similarity. Although there is security in both buildings, anyone can come in and see the bankruptcy court in session, or see the offices and hearing rooms where our Senators and Representatives do their work. You aren’t asked to demonstrate your importance or explain why you’ve come. It had never fully occurred to me just how open our government is. Walking in and out of those buildings, I couldn’t help but feel proud of the system we are a part of. 

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Comments ( 2 )

In light of your criticisms of the bankruptcy process for these two entities, this sentence "I couldn’t help but feel proud of the system we are a part of" and the contrast to the openness of the actual process struck me as amusingly ironic.

The irony occurred to me too. I don't see a conflict in being proud of the system while criticizing decisions that get made; but I have to admit that my worries about the way the administration commandeered the bankruptcy process with Chrysler are more than simply criticisms of a particular decision.