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Fall 2024 Reading Group

Commercial Law and Inequality

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

The bankruptcy system is generally considered part of commercial law in America, a safety valve for overindebted individuals and organizations to cancel or restructure contract obligations for money, goods, and services. Yet, individuals in financial distress who file for personal bankruptcy are inconsistently treated, generating racial disparities in debt relief. In addition, powerful parties use bankruptcy to manage liability and accountability relating to the opioid crisis, police misconduct, sexual harassment, life-threatening defamation, child sex abuse, and gun violence, among other things. This reading group will explore how bankruptcy contributes to inequality through these various pathways, considering cases involving individuals, businesses, non-profits, and cities. The group also will have the opportunity to consider the implications of these dynamics for core principles such as liberty, federalism, and separation of powers. The reading materials will not presume preexisting knowledge of commercial law and bankruptcy.

Note: This reading group will meet on the following dates: TBD.