Earlier this month, we were surprised when U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik signed a petition  to force a House floor vote on the State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act. Politics makes strange bedfellows, but it’s not every day that the chair of the House Republican Conference pushes the same legislation as the Biden Administration’s Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan , much less progressive fellow New Yorker Attorney General Letitia James.
While bill proponents call this bipartisanship, it actually represents the erosion of conservative principles of limited and efficient government in favor of populist, anti-industry sentiments.
Under current law, if multiple states’ attorneys general file the same antitrust lawsuit, those lawsuits can be combined to avoid duplicative litigation and the wasting of state and company resources. If this bill were enacted, those lawsuits would be barred from consolidation, even if those lawsuits were identical. This could lead to a situation in which all 50 states and the federal government are litigating the same case at the same time, creating a tangled web of litigation in courts across the country.
Even worse, each court might come to a different conclusion, at which point – and here’s the rub – the cases would be combined anyway before a Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court. The process could drag out for years, which is the very outcome bill supporters are supposedly seeking to avoid.
This process would be absurdly inefficient, with taxpayers shouldering the cost of superfluous and duplicative lawsuits across multiple jurisdictions. The only people who would come out on top are polarizing attorneys general like New York’s James and Texas’ Ken Paxton and trial attorneys.
In today’s charged partisan environment, Republicans in Congress are too caught up in scoring political points against “Big Tech” to recall their core values. But if they examine the State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act with an eye toward making government work more efficiently, they will see that this legislation creates far more problems than it solves.
Image credit: Vitalii Vodolazskyi
- “signed a petition”: https://urldefense.com/v3/__https:/clerk.house.gov/DischargePetition/20220110?CongressNum=117__;!!Ivohdkk!zyoK6fgbK-rnjoYafo2lkpQj48t4IdtHQpqmcz3ivsBc4R1Ck38nVhQubGGGStgNejnhVQ%24
- “the Biden Administration’s Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan”: https://urldefense.com/v3/__https:/www.law360.com/articles/1465291/ftc-s-khan-urges-senate-to-pass-state-antitrust-venue-bill__;!!Ivohdkk!zyoK6fgbK-rnjoYafo2lkpQj48t4IdtHQpqmcz3ivsBc4R1Ck38nVhQubGGGSti2NFEe5A%24