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Ritter v. Brady

Under the terms of the Bankruptcy Code, a lien should remain valid following a debtor’s bankruptcy discharge only to the extent of the value of the collateral at that time, and the remaining, unsecured portion of the creditor’s claim should be “stripped” and discharged at the end of the bankruptcy case. In Dewsnup v. Timm, however, the Supreme Court declined to give the Code its plain meaning. In 2015, in Bank of America v. Caulkett, the Court declined to reconsider Dewsnup because the parties to that case did not ask it to do so, but several Justices signaled their doubts about its validity. In this case, a pro se bankruptcy petitioner asked the lower courts to strip off a second lien on her home that was completely underwater. Relying on Caulkett and Dewsnup, the courts declined to do so. Public Citizen served as co-counsel for the petitioner in the Supreme Court, asking it to consider the question whether to overrule Dewsnup. The Court, however, denied the petition.