Argument analysis: Justices appear divided over treatment of stale claims in...

This practice of collection on debt that is no longer valid is abhorrent. John Oliver covered some of these abuses last year, for an entertaining if depressing report on it.

Of the three, Ginsburg was the least expansive about her reasoning, but she left no doubt that she thought the activity condemnable, explaining that there seemed to her “no point in making a claim for a debt that’s clearly time barred … except for the chance that it will be overlooked …. And that you will get paid on the assumption that it’s a good claim when, in fact, it isn’t.”

Common sense prevails, ne? Well…

The third concern Breyer interposed was one of frank disbelief – he seemed really to doubt that the problem is nearly so serious as the rhetoric suggests: “It’s rather surprising to me that there is a company and their business model is to go around buying up debts that can’t be enforced and are worthless and then filing cases hoping that no one will notice. Is that shown in the record? Does somebody admit that’s their business model?” The Chief Justice and Justice Samuel Alito seemed to share that last concern. Alito, for example, repeatedly asked “why do these time-barred claims slip though? Why don’t trustees and attorneys for the debtor automatically object to any claim that is beyond the number of years set out in the statute of limitations?” And in the same vein, Roberts seemed to think it should be easy for trustees to identify and object to obviously time-barred claims: “If it’s obvious on the face, then it ought to be obvious to the other side as well.” Neither seemed satisfied with Sotomayor’s answer that the resources necessary to reject even frivolous claims turn out to be substantial.

Privilege much?! Has anyone on the court ever known a person who had a debt collected?

I get that it is up to the attorneys to present such information, but this is an issue that disproportionately affects poor families, and issues affecting poor folks are not being helped when we promote a new cabinet of millionaires and billionaires. The Executive and Legislative branches are not helping.

Supreme Court cases are not always crafted in a way to do the right thing, but this question of if the problem even exists strikes a nerve with me.