Ropes & Gray Argues Key Separation of Powers Case before U.S. Supreme Court
Ropes & Gray litigation partner Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, head of the firm’s Appellate & Supreme Court practice, argued a pivotal separation of powers case before the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 14. The case, Executive Benefits Insurance Agency (EBIA) v. Arkison, could dramatically affect the manner in which certain bankruptcy matters are decided. Ropes & Gray represents EBIA.
At issue is whether non-Article III bankruptcy court judges, who are not appointed by the president and do not have life tenure or salary protection, can, with the consent of the parties, exercise Article III jurisdiction and enter final judgment in matters that would otherwise be outside their authority. The case involves a client sued in bankruptcy court for an alleged fraudulent conveyance. It directly challenges the authority of bankruptcy courts to enter judgment with consent under a statute that purports to confer jurisdiction on non-Article III judges without regard to consent. The holding of the case could also implicate other statutes, such as the Federal Magistrates Act, that authorize non-Article III judges to issue final judgment on the basis of litigant consent.
In addition to Mr. Hallward-Driemeier, the Ropes & Gray team includes business restructuring partner Ross Martin.