Connecticut Law Review Volume 43 - Issue 4

“Too Big To Fail” States

This Essay explores the constitutional implications of a threatened default by a large state. Much like the huge financial institutions that became distressed in 2008, a large state might well be deemed too big to fail. If that kind of state seeks a federal bailout, it would hold most of the cards in any negotiation because Congress lacks the power to compel a state to pay its debts. After outlining this hold-up issue, the Essay concludes by assessing some possible responses by Congress, such as invoking the Guarantee Clause or imposing future fiscal penalties under the Spending Clause.

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