Breaking: SCOTUS stops Chrysler sale

The Supreme Court, in an order signed by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has stopped the sale of Chrysler to Fiat and the bankruptcy plan engineered by the White House.  No details are available quite yet on the story, but I will be watching for updates on the wires and blogs.

Ginsburg stopping the sale, though … that’s interesting in and of itself.

Update: “Stayed pending further order,” Ginsburg noted.  That could mean a temporary stay, but

Chrysler has said a delay could scuttle the deal.

A federal appeals court in New York had earlier approved the sale, but gave opponents until 4 p.m. EDT Monday to try to get the Supreme Court to intervene.

Ginsburg issued her order just before 4 p.m., when Chrysler would have been free to complete the sale of most of its assets to Fiat.

She can ask the full court to decide whether to continue the stay or vacate it on her own, but if she was inclined towards the latter, she wouldn’t have issued the stay.  And if Ginsburg has a problem with the government intervention here, just wait until Scalia and Thomas get a crack at it.

Update II: AFP reports on the decision:

The move will allow the justices to consider whether to allow a full hearing of the legal issues — a delay which Chrysler and US officials say could cause the plan to collapse.

A group of Indiana pension funds opposed to Chrysler’s sale to Fiat filed the emergency appeal with the Supreme Court to halt the sale.

The pension funds wanted a hearing on alleged violations to due process that damaged their standing in the bankruptcy.  The appellate court didn’t want to allow it, but Ginsburg’s decision shows that those claims have enough merit to get heard.

Update III: Chrysler says they only have until June 15 to complete the sale to Fiat, and after that they’ll have to flat-out liquidate.  Maybe they should have done better by their senior creditors then, huh?  And guess who’s representing them?  Thomas Lauria — the lawyer who blew the whistle on the Obama administration’s extortive tactics in the negotiations.  You think he’s loving this today?