Market Institute Senior Fellow Norm Singleton has a new piece in Real Clear Markets highlighting the bizarre antitrust litigation legislation prosposed by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Representative Ken Buck (R-CO).
“Colorado Rep. Ken Buck and Utah Sen. Mike Lee are two of the most reliable defenders of limited government and free markets in Congress. That’s why is it odd that they have teamed up to introduce the State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act (HR 3460/S. 1787). The heart of this bill is that it exempts antitrust suits brought by state attorneys general from the Judicial Panel on Multi District Litigation (JPMD) process.
Lee, Buck, and their allies say subjecting antitrust lawsuits brought by state attorneys general to the JPMV delays adjudication of the case — thus allowing guilty companies to extend the time they profit from violating antitrust laws. This argument ignores the harm to our economy and to the justice system by allowing multiple versions of the same case to proceed in different states.
It creates jeopardy … a kind of double jeopardy, if you will.
If a company was found guilty of antitrust violation in a state court, it would have to obey the judgment, even if it had been found not guilty in other states. So, the Buck-Lee bill could result in a single state judge overriding the decisions of all other state and federal judges.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus has not only endorsed the Lee-Buck bill, but it has also thrown its weight behind Buck’s discharge petition. This petition, if passed by a majority, would force House leadership to hold a floor vote on the measure. Worse, the bill has already passed the Senate – without even a vote!
Supporters of the bill reveal their true intentions when, as Representative Buck does, they complain that the JPMD forces state attorneys general to “give up their homefield advantage.” If they were interested in increasing the fairness and efficiency of the litigation system, and not tilting the playing field toward state governments, they would not care which side had “homefield” advantage.”