Ruling the governor and Detroit’s emergency manager violated the state constitution, an Ingham County Circuit judge ordered Friday that Detroit’s federal bankruptcy filing be withdrawn.
“It’s absolutely needed,” said Judge Rosemary Aquilina, observing she hopes Gov. Rick Snyder “reads certain sections of the (Michigan) constitution and reconsiders his actions.”
The judge said state law guards against retirement benefits being “diminished,” but there will be no such protection in federal bankruptcy court.
I’m going to wait until we get some posting about where judge Aquilina is on the law. It seems to me that she’s saying since retirement benefits are guaranteed under state law, the city can not file for bankruptcy and potentially reduce those benefits. She might be right on the law, I don’t know. But as Veronique de Rugy points out, Detroit may have no choice. They have over $9 billion in unfunded pension requirements and over 60% of the workers in the system are retirees, not active workers.
There’s also this:
The filing involved a bit of courtroom drama.
With rumors it was imminent Thursday afternoon, attorneys representing the pension boards hurried into Aquilina’s court in Lansing to ask for a temporary restraining order.
But Snyder and Orr beat them by a few minutes. Aquilina, informed by phone, allowed the pension board lawyers to revise their restraining order request, then granted it.
Prior to her ruling on Friday, the judge criticized the Snyder administration and Schuette’s office over their hasty move.
“It’s cheating, sir, and it’s cheating good people who work,” the judge told assistant state Attorney General Brian Devlin. “It’s also not honoring the (United States) president, who took (Detroit’s auto companies) out of bankruptcy.”
Actually, your honor, he took them into bankruptcy so that they could their debts under control. The Detroit Free Press claims she’s sending copies of her order to Obama (Update: Adam Steinbaugh claims this is the note). What the fuck Barack Obama has to do with Detroit’s bankruptcy, I have no idea.
I will again wait until I see what someone with a legal background posts about the ruling. My initial impression is that a judge is acting outside the law and needlessly politicizing this (politicizing it on the blogs or in debate is fine; in a courtroom, not so much).