From its earliest days, NACBA has devoted enormous energy to protecting and enhancing the rights of consumer bankruptcy debtors by getting involved in legislative efforts to change the Bankruptcy Code. As a direct result of NACBA’s involvement in the Congressional debate, the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994 included many provisions beneficial to consumer debtors. Subsequently, NACBA and its members figured prominently in the deliberations of the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, from its initial meeting up through its final report.
When the consumer credit industry and its backers in Congress ignored the Commission Report and introduced their anti-consumer bills, NACBA was there to lead the fight to preserve basic bankruptcy rights. NACBA developed a strategy that included educating individuals and organizations that could be affected by the proposed changes. Through this outreach, coordinated by NACBA, a broad alliance of groups representing consumers, women, working families, and seniors, as well as religious organizations, civil rights groups, and organizations devoted to social justice, came together to oppose the creditors’ bill. Although the bill eventually passed, NACBA’s advocacy helped delay that passage for eight years and also defeated many of the most onerous proposed changes. When the bill was signed into law in 2005, it was NACBA that educated thousands of consumer bankruptcy attorneys on how to effectively represent clients in the new environment.
NACBA has led recent efforts in Congress to enact mortgage modification legislation. Working closely with a broad coalition of allies in this effort, NACBA has led the fight to enact bankruptcy legislation that would help save hundreds of thoughsands of homes from foreclosure by allow for court-supervised modification of home mortgages. This proposal was included in several legislative bills in both houses of Congress and was widely endorsed by major newspaper across the country.
It is an unfortunate fact that consumer debtors’ counsel involved in appeals on important bankruptcy issues do not always have adequate resources to take on the high priced firms hired by the consumer creditors they face. NACBA helps to fill this important breach by filing amicus briefs in cases that will determine the future rights of the hundreds of thousands of consumer debtors who will be bound by them. NACBA amicus briefs played an important role in debtor victories in Supreme Court cases such as Till v. SCS Credit Corp., Tennessee Student Assistance Corp. v. Hood, and Kawaauhau v. Geiger, as well as many circuit court of appeals decisions, several of which specifically cited NACBA’s briefs.
With the many new issues under the 2005 legislation, NACBA has expanded its amicus program to include briefs in lower court cases and model briefs available to members on frequently-litigated issues. NACBA’s Amicus Project also provides and support to members litigating these issues, so that they can benefit from the experience acquired in NACBA’s efforts around the country.
Recognizing the “gatekeeper” role the news media plays in shaping public opinion, NACBA serves as the central clearinghouse for media requests regarding bankruptcy issues and proactively carries out public awareness campaigns, conducting media events emphasizing the availability and benefits of bankruptcy, as well as the need for meaningful consumer bankruptcy relief. NACBA also serves as a resource for members in their own outreach to local media.