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When Churches Fail: The Diocesan Debtor Dilemmas


Jonathan C. Lipson


Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law


Southern California Law Review, Vol. 79, p. 363, 2006
Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2006-05

Abstract:     
This article examines the doctrinal and constitutional dilemmas created when a religious organization goes into bankruptcy, through the lens of the Chapter 11 reorganizations recently commenced by Catholic dioceses in Oregon, Washington and Arizona. The doctrinal dilemma in these cases forces judges to choose between the rules and norms of bankruptcy law, on the one hand, and religious liberty, on the other. The constitutional dilemma forces courts to choose between respecting the Free Exercise (and related) rights of parishioners and Establishment Clause-based protections for tort creditors. The article argues that solutions to these dilemmas may be found through creative use of conflict-of-laws doctrine and what the article calls purposive equity.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 93

Keywords: Bankruptcy, reorganization, Chapter 11, religion, religious liberty, church, free exercise, establishment, RFRA, conflict-of-laws, equity

JEL Classification: K49

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Date posted: September 29, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Lipson, Jonathan C., When Churches Fail: The Diocesan Debtor Dilemmas. Southern California Law Review, Vol. 79, p. 363, 2006; Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2006-05. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=804724

Contact Information

Jonathan C. Lipson (Contact Author)
Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )
1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
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