United States Court of Appeals
Bankruptcy – corporations — jurisdiction
Even though a corporation’s bankruptcy petition was signed by a non-lawyer, the court has jurisdiction.
“[W]e can’t think why the rule barring corporations from litigating without counsel should be deemed a rule of subject-matter jurisdiction. In part to spare the courts the bother of addressing issues not presented by the parties, and also in recognition of the adversary character of the American adjudicative process, Henderson v. Shinseki, 131 S. Ct. 1197, 1202 (2011) (‘branding a rule as going to a court’s subject-matter jurisdiction alters the normal operation of our adversarial system. Under that system, courts are generally limited to addressing the claims and arguments advanced by the parties. Courts do not usually raise claims or arguments on their own’ (citation omitted)), the Supreme Court has taken a sharp turn toward confining dismissals for want of subject-matter jurisdiction to cases in which the federal tribunal has been denied by the Constitution or Congress or a valid federal regulation the authority to adjudicate a particular type of suit. See (besides Henderson) Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick, 130 S. Ct. 1237, 1248 (2010); Union Pacific R.R. v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen General Committee, 130 S. Ct. 584, 596- 98 (2009); Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514-16 (2006); Eberhart v. United States, 546 U.S. 12, 18-19 (2005) (per curiam); Scarborough v. Principi, 541 U.S. 401, 413-14 (2004); Kontrick v. Ryan, 540 U.S. 443, 454-55 (2004). These days, therefore, subject-matter jurisdiction is (with an exception noted below) about the competence of the tribunal—‘competence’ in the sense of legal empowerment to decide a case—rather than about the mistakes that litigants and sometimes judges make in a case that is within the tribunal’s competence.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Manning, J., Posner, J.