Jenner & Block

Firm Wins in US Supreme Court on Fundamental Issue in Puerto Rico Bankruptcy

The Supreme Court this week delivered a victory for the firm’s client, the Official Committee of Retired Employees of Puerto Rico, regarding the constitutionality of the Financial Oversight and Management Board.  The Board has had oversight of the Puerto Rico bankruptcy case – the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history -- for the past three years.  At issue before the Court was whether the appointment of the Board is subject to the Appointments Clause and whether the actual appointment violated the Appointments Clause.  If the Board was ruled unconstitutional, that would have potentially rendered its actions invalid, a decision which would have been detrimental to the interests of the Retiree Committee. 

On June 1, the Supreme Court unanimously “reversed a lower court ruling that threatened to throw the island's recovery efforts into chaos,” reads an article in The New York Times.  The Court concluded that that the oversight board members “are not ‘Officers of the United States,’” and for that reason, says the ruling, “the Appointments Clause does not dictate how the Board’s members must be selected.”

A firm team submitted important briefing in support of the constitutionality of the appointment of the board at each level of the matter.   The team included Partners Ian Heath Gershengorn, Lindsay C. Harrison, Devi Rao, Catherine L. Steege, Robert D. Gordon and Melissa M. Root.  Other team members included Associates Andrew C. Noll, Adrienne L. Benson and Tassity Johnson, Senior Paralegal Cheryl Olson and Research Librarian Tricia Peavler.