I'm pleased to welcome into the Lounge my friend, and Regent law professor, Scott Pryor (pictured). Scott teaches and writes in the UCC/commercial/bankruptcy area. He has been at Regent since 1998, was a Fulbright Scholar (India) in 2009, and a visitor at Campbell during the 2010-11 academic year. You can view a list of his scholarly works (many of them in downloadable form) by clicking on the link above.
And he has his own blog: Pryor Thoughts.
Scott will be sharing his thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, announced earlier today, in the bankruptcy case of RADLAX GATEWAY HOTEL, LLC, ET AL. v. AMALGAMATED BANK.
Scott's first post:
Plain Meaning With a Twist
While it might not pack the excitement of some Supreme Court cases, RadLAX Gateway Hotel v. Amalgamated Bank is certainly important to the world of bankruptcy law. On Tuesday the Court made an easy case of it, perhaps a bit easier than it should have but one that I ultimately believe was correct. (Disclosure: I was one of the signers of the so-called “Professors’ Brief” urging the Court to affirm the decision of the Seventh Circuit, which it did, albeit on different grounds.)
Overcoming a straightforward “plain meaning” argument by the debtor, the Supreme Court unanimously held that “or” doesn’t mean “or” when to do so would be “be hyperliteral and contrary to common sense.” When is that the case? According to the Court, when to do so would allow the general rule to swallow the particular. A rather pedantic position but one that the Court uses with some regularity.
And how do we know when that’s the case? When is the plain meaning not so plain? Here the Court (did I mention that Justice Scalia authored the Court’s opinion?) cited two factors. When application of the general principal would render the specific rule superfluous. In other words, when the specific maps entirely within the general rule. And, second, when there are no “textual indications that point in the other direction.” Of course, that’s what RadLAX argued here; that the disjunctive “or” between Bankruptcy Code § 1129(b)(2)(A)(ii) and (iii) contraindicated the general rule of statutory construction. But there were no buyers on the Court for RadLAX’s argument. Some thoughts on why later.