Joe Biden was outraged. In February 2005, after eight years of starts and stops, the Senate was finally moving forward on a landmark overhaul of the nation’s bankruptcy laws—a bipartisan behemoth piece of legislation, backed by big banks and credit card companies, that the Delaware senator had taken a lead role in shepherding. But at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s public hearing on the bill, one of the witnesses had said something about his home state that Biden couldn’t let stand. The witness’ specific concern was Delaware’s unique status as the venue of choice for large corporations filing for bankruptcy. Companies understood that the courts there (where many of the companies were nominally incorporated) were more likely to take their side against creditors, such as employee pension plans. And the venue-shopping opened up a broader issue of access; massive companies such as Enron could choose a forum thousands of miles away from where their employees lived, effectively shutting the workers out of the process. The Delaware option allowed companies to “escape the obligation to make the process open,” the witness said, while the millions of individuals filing for personal bankruptcy every year had no such luxury. “I find the language that is… Read full this story
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