Marathon Pipe Line: An Interview with the Lawyer Who Argued the Case and the Bankruptcy Judge Who Decided It

October 3, 2017

In one of the most important bankruptcy court decisions of all time, Northern Pipeline Construction Co. v. Marathon Pipe Line Co., the United States Supreme Court held that the 1979 Bankruptcy Code was unconstitutional because it lodged too much judicial power in bankruptcy judges who were not given “Article III” status, which grants lifetime tenure and salary protection and helps assure judicial independence. The Marathon case originated in Minnesota and Jim Baillie conducted a joint interview of retired Bankruptcy Judge John Connolly and Mel Orenstein for the National Bankruptcy Archives. Judge Connelly was a long serving bankruptcy judge in Minnesota who later served on recall in New York. He made the original decision in the Marathon case. Mel Orenstein had a distinguished career as a bankruptcy lawyer. He argued the Marathon case all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, where he prevailed.

The American College of Bankruptcy seeks to capture bankruptcy history by preserving the personal records and video interviews of people who played important roles in the development of the bankruptcy system. The archived materials are maintained at the University of Pennsylvania.

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