Resolution Authorizing Joining in Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of the Connecticut Bar Associations Constitutional Challenge of Certain Provisions of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act Of 2005
WHEREAS, the United States Congress, through the Bankruptcy Code, has long recognized the vital importance of the availability of Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief to debtors who, as a result of sudden job loss, medical emergency or other unanticipated reasons, need relief from crushing debts and the ability to make a fresh start as productive members of society;
WHEREAS, members of the Philadelphia Bar Association, including many attorneys practicing bankruptcy law in Philadelphia and surrounding areas, have played an indispensable role in providing the highest quality legal services to thousands of debtors in legitimate need of bankruptcy relief, and have assisted their clients in obtaining relief efficiently and effectively;
WHEREAS, in 2005 the United States Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act ("BAPCPA"), which among other things: (a) restricts the ability of attorneys from advising clients who are potential debtors in bankruptcy concerning certain matters that are otherwise entirely legal; (b) requires consumer bankruptcy attorneys to advertise as "Debt Relief Agencies" in a manner which is misleading to the public; (c) requires consumer bankruptcy attorneys to provide information to clients about the bankruptcy process which interferes with the attorney-client relationship resulting in inadequate and ineffective counsel being provided to the impoverished and poor members of society;
WHEREAS, on March 2, 2005, the Board of Governors adopted a resolution opposing the adoption of the provisions of BAPCPA referenced above;
WHEREAS, the members of the Philadelphia Bar Association have long recognized the importance of pro bono assistance in ensuring adequate legal representation for low-income disadvantaged citizens in the Philadelphia region, and for that reason, created the Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project (CBAP) to facilitate the recruitment of lawyers in private practice to represent clients pro bono in filing legitimate bankruptcy petitions;
WHEREAS, the aforementioned provisions of BAPCPA, taken together, will have a particularly devastating impact on the availability of pro bono representation of low-income and disadvantaged debtors, by discouraging volunteer attorneys recruited by non-profit legal services agencies from representing debtors;
WHEREAS, since the enactment of BAPCPA, CBAP has in fact suffered a decline in the number of attorneys willing to volunteer to represent pro bono bankruptcy clients;
WHEREAS, the Connecticut Bar Association, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, certain individual attorneys and a potential bankruptcy client have filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut against the United States of America, the Attorney General and the United States Trustee seeking a preliminary injunction and declaratory judgment that the aforementioned provisions violate, inter alia, First Amendment rights and therefore should not be enforced (the Connecticut Litigation);
WHEREAS, regardless of which party wins in the Connecticut Litigation, each party has indicated that it will appeal any adverse decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association agrees to participate along with other local bar associations as amici curiae in filing a brief before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the Connecticut Litigation concerning, inter alia, the impact of the aforementioned provisions of BAPCPA on pro bono and other volunteer efforts by the bar.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: OCTOBER 26, 2006