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Carlos J. Cuevas

Justice Scalia had a profound impact on the development of American law, and he especially had a significant impact on the development of bankruptcy law.  Although Justice Scalia did not write many decisions, his methodology of textualism or strict statutory construction has permeated the Supreme Court’s bankruptcy decisions.  Justice Scalia’s emphasis on strict statutory construction has been the dominant mode of analysis in the Supreme Court’s bankruptcy decisions. E.g., Patterson v. Shumate, 504 U.S. 753 (1992); Toibb v. Radloff, 501 U.S. 177 (1991); United States v. Ron Pair Enterprises, Inc., 489 U.S. 235 (1989).  Justice Scalia’s methodology of strict statutory construction has been embraced by all of the justices of the court, and therefore, a significant portion of the Supreme Court bankruptcy decisions have been unanimous. E.g., Law v. Siegel, 571 U.S. 415 (2014); Hartford Underwriters Ins. Co. v. Union Planters Bank, N.A., 530 U.S. 1 (2000); Nobelman v. American Sav. Bank, 508 U.S. 324 (1993). Justice Scalia’s opinions in Law v. Siegel, 571 U.S. 415 (2014) provides significant insight as to why strict statutory construction is the dominant mode of analysis for bankruptcy issues by the federal courts.

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