Detroit Bankruptcy Judge: Pension Ruling Was “Not Particularly Difficult” Decision


U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes – the judge that authorized Detroit’s pension cuts as part of its bankruptcy plan – said this week that, from a legal standpoint, the decision to let the city cut pensions was “not particularly difficult”.

But from a personal standpoint the cuts were more difficult, according to Rhodes.

Here’s what Rhodes had to say about the ruling, according to the Detroit Free Press:

Michigan’s Constitution describes public pensions as a contractual obligation that cannot be cut, but federal bankruptcy law allows contracts to be severed.

“I have to say that from a legal perspective, it was not a particularly difficult decision,” he said.


He felt still compassion for the city’s retirees and citizens who suffered because of the city’s financial collapse and water shutoffs.

Rhodes, who presided over the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history from start to finish, told WDET’s “Detroit Today” that he invited citizens to speak in his courtroom on multiple occasions during the case because he wanted to hear their input.

“It wasn’t just show. It wasn’t just me trying to persuade people that I’m fair,” he said. “I was genuinely interested in what their concerns were and how I could possibly deal with them, if I could. So that was important to me.”

Rhodes also said in the interview that Detroit should have filed for bankruptcy as early as 2005.

Read the full interview here.


Photo credit: “DavidStottsitsamongDetroittowers” by Mikerussell – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons