Bankruptcy for troubled cities, states topic of Stranahan National Issues Forum

March 14, 2017 | Events, News, UToday, Law
By Kirsten M. Winek

In the past several years, many of the largest U.S. cities and states have faced financial crises that have caused them to consider declaring bankruptcy. The city of Detroit declared bankruptcy in 2013, while Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory with a current debt of $70 billion, has no access to this remedy.

David A. Skeel, the S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, will address municipal and state bankruptcy as well as its causes and solutions, as part of the UT College of Law’s Stranahan National Issues Forum. His lecture titled “When is Bankruptcy the Answer for Troubled Cities and States?” will be held Thursday, March 16, at noon in the Law Center McQuade Law Auditorium.


Skeel will identify the extent of governmental indebtedness and its many causes. He then will explain current avenues — and obstacles — within the bankruptcy code for municipal and state bankruptcy, drawing upon his experience as one of five members of the federally appointed board overseeing Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

“Professor Skeel is one of the nation’s leading experts on bankruptcy having written, among many other pieces of scholarship, the definitive history of bankruptcy law in the United States,” UT Law Professor Lee J. Strang said. “We’re delighted Professor Skeel is delivering this spring’s Stranahan Lecture because he will shed light on not just the Detroit bankruptcy, but also other potential municipal and state bankruptcies. Professor Skeel’s lecture is sure to spark debate and conversation.”

A scholar and prolific writer, Skeel’s expertise lies in the areas of corporate law, bankruptcy, and religion and the law. In addition to numerous articles, he has published four books: “True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World” (InterVarsity, 2014); “The New Financial Deal: Understanding the Dodd-Frank Act and Its (Unintended) Consequences” (Wiley, 2011); “Icarus in the Boardroom” (Oxford, 2005); and “Debt’s Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America” (Princeton, 2001). He also has frequently appeared in the press with commentaries appearing in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard.

The free, public lecture is a part of the Stranahan National Issues Forum and is sponsored by the UT College of Law and its chapter of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies.

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