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US requests time to see if it will intervene in PR bankruptcy case


“The United States has a statutory right to intervene in any federal court action in which the constitutionality of an Act of Congress is drawn into question,” the federal Justice Department said in its motion.

By The Star Staff


The United States Justice Department on Wednesday requested time to determine if it will intervene in the confirmation hearings on the plan of adjustment in Puerto Rico’s Title III bankruptcy case to discuss certain challenges to the constitutionality of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA).


The request came as the government and other parties were arguing the debt adjustment plan.


“The United States has a statutory right to intervene in any federal court action in which the constitutionality of an Act of Congress is drawn into question …” a motion submitted in the bankruptcy case said. “The United States may intervene within sixty days after the filing of a notice of a constitutional challenge or the Court’s certification of the challenge, whichever is earlier, unless the Court sets a later date.”


In that regard, the federal Justice Department asked for a reasonable extension of time to consider the issue of intervention on the various constitutional challenges. The solicitor general of the United States is responsible for determining whether the United States should intervene to defend the constitutionality of an act of Congress.


“That determination requires sufficient time to consult with affected government agencies and components, and that process is ongoing,” the Justice Department said. “Counsel for the United States also faces pressing deadlines in other litigation matters. Accordingly, the United States respectfully submits that cause exists for enlarging the time for it to notify the Court and other parties whether the United States will defend the constitutionality of PROMESA and the Bankruptcy Code.”


The department asked for an enlargement until Jan. 31, 2022 for it to determine whether it will defend the constitutionality of PROMESA. The oversight board did not consent to the request.

U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain acknowledged that the court received and reviewed the constitutional challenges. However, she ordered the parties to submit objections by 5 p.m. today, Nov. 18.


The challenges were filed by groups stating that PROMESA goes against the Takings Clause, which guarantees fair compensation in eminent domain disputes.


The court on Wednesday completed the evaluation of the plan of adjustment to restructure some $33 billion in debt, and Swain will hear final arguments on Monday.


She will also have to take up the Title VI restructuring of the Convention Center.

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