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The term “bankruptcy” is nowhere to be found in the Bible. It seems to have first emerged in the late sixteenth century as a concoction of “banca” and “rotta,” which together mean “broken bench.” According to a common historical account, lenders in late medieval Italy set up benches in the market square – the equivalent of hanging out a shingle – and made their loans on their benches. If a lender defaulted, his bench was broken, thus preventing him from continuing to do business. Default ended his lending career.
When States Go Broke collects insights and analysis from leading academics and practitioners that discuss the ongoing fiscal crisis among the American states. No one disagrees with the idea that the states face enormous political and fiscal challenges. There is, however, little consensus on how to fix the perennial problems associated with these challenges. This volume fills an important gap in the dialogue by offering an academic analysis of the many issues broached by these debates. Leading scholars in bankruptcy, constitutional law, labor law, history, political science and economics have individually contributed their assessments of the origins, context and potential solutions for the states in crisis. It presents readers - academics, policy makers and concerned citizens alike - with the resources to begin and continue that important, solution-oriented conversation.
In the fall of 2009, we started planning a conference at Harvard Law School to celebrate the life and scholarly achievements of Bill Stuntz. Had it been up to Bill, this celebration never would have happened. “I feel uncomfortable about this,” he emailed one of us. “It all seems to me undeserved – I’m not at that level – and I would think no one would be interested in writing for or publishing it.”
Although characteristically modest, Bill was obviously wrong about his stature within the legal academy, where he is widely esteemed as the preeminent criminal procedure scholar of his generation. “Of course I’ll be there,” one leading scholar replied to our invitation. Every other invitee likewise accepted – quickly and enthusiastically, even when attendance required rearranging prior commitments.
The past several decades have seen a renaissance in criminal procedure as a cutting-edge discipline and as one inseparably linked to substantive criminal law. This renaissance can be traced in no small part to the work of a single scholar: William Stuntz. This volume brings together twelve leading American criminal justice scholars whose own writings have been profoundly influenced by Stuntz and his work. Their contributions consist of essays on subjects ranging from the political economy of substantive criminal law to the law of police investigations to the role of religion in legal scholarship - all themes addressed by Stuntz in his own work. Some contributions directly analyze or respond to Stuntz's work, while others address topics or themes Stuntz wrote about from the contributor's own distinctive perspective.