A fundamental objective of federal bankruptcy laws enacted by Congress is to give debtors a new financial start from onerous debts. In exercising its bankruptcy powers, Congress must not transgress the Fifth and Tenth Amendments. The Bankruptcy Act states that immunity from use may be granted “to persons who must submit to examination, testify or provide information in a bankruptcy case, 1442 Congress cannot seize specific assets previously acquired from a debtor from a creditor, nor restrict the creditor's right to such an unreasonable extent as to deny you due process of law; 1443, however, this principle is subject to the Supreme Court's finding that a bankruptcy court has summary jurisdiction to order the delivery of voidable preferences when the trustee files a successful counterclaim to a lawsuit filed by the creditor receiving such preferences, 1444. As the coverage of bankruptcy laws has expanded, the scope of relief granted to debtors has expanded accordingly. The law of 1800, like its background in English, was designed primarily for the benefit of creditors.
Since the law of 1841, which opened the door to voluntary petitions, the rehabilitation of the debtor has become an object of increasing concern for Congress. A judgment in the event of bankruptcy is no longer required for the exercise of bankruptcy jurisdiction. In 1867, the debtor was allowed for the first time, before or after filing for bankruptcy, to propose composition conditions that would become binding once accepted by a designated majority of its creditors and confirmed by a bankruptcy court. This measure was considered constitutional, 1 footnote in re Reiman, 20 F.
Like subsequent laws, which provided for the reorganization of companies that are insolvent or unable to pay their debts as they mature, 2 FootnoteContinental Bank v. And for the composition and extent of debts in procedures for the relief of individual farmers' debtors, 3FootNoteWright v. Bank of America Assn, 303 EE. UU.
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4 (Bankruptcy) He then commented that he would consider the question of power with reference to the bill now before the Committee, and would endeavor to demonstrate that Congress had the power to approve it. He then read the eighth section of the first article of the National Constitution, the part that gives Congress the power to establish a uniform bankruptcy system throughout the United States. I couldn't believe that they were being dragged before bankruptcy commissioners and, finally, before a federal court, to adjust the division of an estate, which was not worth more than one or two hundred dollars. No, he believed, unlike many others, that the law should be limited to the cases of social classes, whose commercial and commercial transactions had given rise to the need for the system.
He then read the second section of the third article of the National Constitution to show that if each class of society were accepted by the terms of the law, their cases would be heard in federal courts, such as cases governed by United States law. In his view, this was not the intention of the Convention. He then commented that the terms bankruptcy and insolvency were technical terms in law, and the first expressed the status of trader, trader or broker, &c. The members of the Convention generally learned in the laws of both States and Great Britain; they had the full opportunity to see these principles in the form of statutes and summaries; they understood them; therefore, it is a fair conclusion that, if they had designed to adopt the principles and notion of insolvency, they would have used the Term.
He then noted that he would endeavor to respond to some objections to the power of Congress, as expected by a gentleman from Virginia with the passage of the bill (Sr. Stevenson. To this objection, I would answer: first. That, if the exposure that he (Sr.
This is justified by the well-known and sensible rule that each party must have some operation and effect, if it can be done with any reasonable intention or construction. The principles of the bill are not within the terms of the prohibition. Many legal figures are of the opinion that the prohibition only relates to criminal matters; but he (Sr. The last idea encompasses all that great division of rights, or things in action, that lawyers call ex-delicto actions.
This importance of prohibition is reinforced by examining the tenth section of the same article, which likewise prohibits States from passing laws ex post facto and, under the terms of the same prohibition clause, also prohibits them from passing laws that prevent the obligation of contracts. This last prohibition ensures the rights of citizens in everything that is in action depending on the contract; and, if the previous construction is achieved, the other branch of the prohibition ensures all rights that depend on grievances; but, if it does not, all the rights of one class, dependent on the wrongful acts of another person, they are unprotected. I could not believe that the Convention was intended to so carefully protect a large class of rights and, at the same time, leave the other great class unprotected. He then noted that, in view of the prohibition of passing ex post facto laws that had just been enacted, no violation could be found in the bill, because, upon examination, it would be determined that claims, based on grievances, were not within its provisions; thus, after the adoption of the bill, the rights to this the class can be enforced as before, and the responsibility will continue as before.
Plaintiffs of this class have to run the law race with others. The Constitution has given Congress the power to establish uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcy throughout the United States. Mr. He said that this phraseology deserved attention and that it seemed to have been adopted to convey broader ideas than expressions, which would probably be the first to appear to grant limited power to pass bankrupt laws.
If the Constitution were limited to saying that Congress would have the power to establish laws in bankruptcy, or all laws in bankruptcy, even then it would be difficult to say that there are any restrictions on the type of bankruptcy law that Congress could pass. But when the power is to pass laws on the subject of bankruptcy, shouldn't it be understood that Congress has the right to pass all kinds of bankruptcy laws? Mr. That said, it seemed to him that this question would be answered by determining the meaning of the word bankruptcy or bankruptcy. He said that we must, in this case, as in all others in which the meaning of a word in our language is questioned, ask about its etymology, its definition by lexicographers and its use by authors.
The honorable member of Virginia had expressed his aversion to such references, such as having the appearance of pedantry. That said, I didn't know why other channels the research could take place, and I hoped that there would be no ostentation in a reference to simple early books. The etymology, he admitted, was an uncertain, and often fallacious, guide to the meaning of words. But when giving a meaning corresponding to that derived from other sources, as in the present case, it could be taken into account.
The word bankruptcy was probably first applied to money traffickers. We can assume that they were processing their business at counters or banks. When they failed, couldn't pay their debts or ran away, their counters were probably removed or destroyed; therefore, those who had occupied them were said to be bankrupt. The dictionary definition of bankruptcy, as it will appear in that of Dr.
Johnson, which I now see in the collection of books made for use in this room, and which must be admitted has as much authority as any other person that can be appealed to, defines a person in bankruptcy as a debt beyond the power to pay. This definition obviously implies that, in the author's opinion, the word bankrupt was not limited in its meaning by any legal provision; and we shall see, returning to the statute of Henry VIII. Here you can read a summary of Henry VIII's statute. This was limited to punishing those who cleverly obtained other men's property and fled or kept their homes, without worrying about paying their debts, but who consumed the substance obtained on credit, for their own pleasure, against all reason, fairness and good conscience.
It is well known that, in ancient times, Parliament itself did not give titles to its acts. The titles were nothing more than the secretary's endorsement, in their formation, it was determined by the content of the bill. Therefore, in this case, after determining that the law contained provisions against fraudulent and insolvent debtors, he supported that it was a law against people filing for bankruptcy; the word “bankruptcy” did not appear anywhere in the bill. There is no doubt, then, that this word, bankrupt, has, at all times, had a meaning independent of the laws, and it meant, and still means, one indebted beyond the power to pay, as defined by Johnson; and one that fraudulently avoided payment, according to its application in the title of the statute of Henry VIII.
Therefore, we can derive a definition of bankruptcy; and since Congress has the power to establish all laws on that subject, it has the power to establish laws that refer to those who are indebted beyond their power to pay or who avoid paying their debts in a fraudulent manner. If we have found out the meaning of the term bankruptcy, it seems that the argument on this point is over. Because Congress has the power to pass all laws on this subject, as well as laws that release the debtor from assets acquired later as his person. It cannot be said, for any reason, that Congress has powers inferior to full powers in this regard; and it would seem absurd to argue that the very general and complete words of the Constitution transmitted to Congress only the lowest degree of authority that a legislative body can exercise on this subject: which is to exonerate only the Person of the debtor.
But, although we should appeal in vain to the statutory law of England, or of our own country, for the definition of the term broken, we can refer to them to determine the meaning in which the drafters of the Constitution used the word; and, when we discover that all the laws that existed in Europe, by virtue of the name of a law In bankruptcy, it not only allowed the insolvent debtor to obtain the release of his person, but also an exoneration from his subsequent acquisitions, can it be assumed that, in our Constitution, the term was used in a narrower sense than in all contemporary laws? Mr. He said that these considerations had led him to the most satisfactory conclusion that, under the letter of the Constitution, Congress had been given the power to approve the bill, which was now being considered by the Committee. But he would ask for the Committee's leniency as he tried to demonstrate, with another argument, which seemed perfectly conclusive to him, that Congress had the power in question. After taking control of Congress and the Presidency, the Whigs passed the Bankruptcy Act of 1841.
A state, of course, has no power to enforce any law governing bankruptcy that impairs the obligation of contracts (1454) extends to persons or assets outside its jurisdiction (1455), or that conflicts with domestic bankruptcy laws. After the repeal of the Bankruptcy Act of 1841, the issue of bankruptcy disappeared from congressional consideration again until the Panic of 1857, when appeals for a bankruptcy law resurfaced. This man objected that the bill would be an ex post facto law and that it would violate the third member of the ninth section of the first article of the National Constitution, which prohibits Congress from approving such laws. Because Congress cannot replace the power of a state to determine how a corporation will be formed, supervised and dissolved, a corporation that has been dissolved by a decree of a state court cannot file a request for reorganization under the Bankruptcy Act.
Congress can recognize state laws related to dowry, exemption, mortgage validity, payment priorities, and similar matters, even though such recognition leads to different results from state to state; 29 FootNoteStellWagon v. Before 1898, Congress exercised the power to establish “uniform laws” on the subject of bankruptcy only intermittently. In one of the circuit's first cases, Judge Livingston suggested that, since English laws on the subject of bankruptcy from the time of Henry VIII onward applied only to merchants, there could be “doubt” as to whether an act of Congress subjecting every description of persons within the United States to such a law. States would agree with the spirit of the powers conferred on them in relation to this subject.
That said, I should fully agree with the gentleman of Virginia that the Constitution expressly granted the power to pass the bill before us, that is, a bill that would liberate both property and the person, or that Congress had no power to enact such a law. This period of divided government ended with the 55th Congress, in which the Bankruptcy Act of 1898 was passed. The debates in the Annals of Congress are brief, but suggest that the demand for the bill came from people who were struggling financially. He argued that Congress is not prohibited from passing laws that affect the obligation of contracts.
In the first period, which covers most of the 19th century, Congress enacted three laws in the wake of financial crises. . .