By STEVE BITTENBENDER
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — A New York group sent a letter earlier this month to three of the state’s Republican congressional representatives asking them to reconsider their support of a federal judicial reform bill.
U.S. Reps. Nicole Malliotakis, Tom Reed and Claudia Tenney received the letter from Tom Stebbins, the executive director for the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY). Mr. Stebbins sent the letter after he heard the trio signed a discharge petition for the State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act.
LRANY “wholeheartedly opposes any politically motivated distortion of the judiciary and asks that you consider the consequences to the rule of law if this bill is enacted,” he said.
The bill would preclude antitrust actions brought forward by states from federal processes that allow cases to be transferred and consolidated.
Mr. Stebbins’ letter told the lawmakers the bill could potentially “jeopardize the integrity of our legal system” by allowing for different rulings by judges.
“Centralizing these cases, as currently made possible by the multidistrict litigation process, is indeed necessary to ensure an efficient and rigorous review of antitrust actions,” he wrote. “As we’ve seen time and again, antitrust litigation often involves multiple states bringing action against companies which operate at a national level. A robust judicial infrastructure is required to adequately review such cases.”
LRANY also believes the bill would benefit private practice firms that focus on antitrust cases.
“If states are suddenly allowed to file antitrust cases that cannot be consolidated, law firms will have a new and lucrative economic incentive to pitch contracts with state AGs to file duplicative suits in venues throughout the country,” Mr. Stebbins added.
Reps. Malliotakis, Reed and Tenney signed the discharge petition last month to get the bill to the House floor. The petition needs 218 signatures to be successful.
According to the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, 103 members have signed the petition.A fourth New York Republican, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, signed the petition Feb. 4, three days after LRANY sent the letter to Reps. Malliotakis, Reed and Tenney.