The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Greg Williams, Communications Director / (o) (202) 783-3566 x101

Supreme Court Hears Puerto Rico Bankruptcy Case


The US Supreme Court hears arguments on whether Puerto Rico's courts can restructure about $20 billion of the US territory's $72 billion debt. Puerto Rico's legislature passed the 2014 "Recovery Act" which empowers the island's courts to restructure debt belonging to Puerto Rico's public companies. The First Circuit Court of Appeals previously ruled in 2015 that only Congress can determine how to restructure Puerto Rico's debt under US bankruptcy law.

"If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Puerto Rico, we'll have some additional tools to address some of the debt in an orderly way," said Eric LeCompte, a United Nations sovereign debt expert and Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. "While this could be positive. it still doesn't offer a comprehensive solution."

Only seven US Supreme Court justices are expected to hear the case because of Justice Antonin Scalia's death and because Justice Samuel Alito may recuse himself from hearing the case. Alito recused himself when the high court decided to take the case in December.

"I hope the Supreme Court will allow Puerto Rico's bankruptcy courts to arbitrate the debt," stated LeCompte, who testified to Congress in February on possible legislative solutions to the debt crisis. "Puerto Rico is in a downward spiral and it can't cut or tax its way out of this crisis."

Read a timeline of Puerto Rico's debt crisis

Read Eric LeCompte's testimony before Congress

Jubilee USA Network is an interfaith, non-profit alliance of religious, development and advocacy organizations. We are 75 U.S. institutions and more than 750 faith groups working across the United States and around the globe. We address the structural causes of poverty and inequality in our communities and countries around the world.

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