John K. James of Warner Robins, Ga., softly insists that he is a bankruptcy attorney. The fact that the new federal bankruptcy law requires him to identify himself as a debt-relief agency, he says, is neither accurate nor fair, and it sticks in his craw like a burned batch of grits.

Late last fall, he filed a “motion to determine attorney status” with the chief bankruptcy judge for the Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Georgia. James carefully argued that the debt-relief agency provisions of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, as applied to attorneys, violate the First Amendment. He also claimed that the law’s structure and legislative history indicate Congress did not intend the term to apply to attorneys.

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