Chamber: Stop lawsuits – but not ours

commerceThe U.S. chamber of Commerce frequently backs efforts to curb lawsuits, something Chamber officials say is necessary to protect businesses.

“The last thing this country needs is more lawsuits sucking from the nation’s economy,” Chamber president and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said just days after the November election, warning that Democrats in the White House and congress could block tort reform efforts.

But in a recent letter from the Chamber’s chief lobbyist R. Bruce Josten to Congress, the group urged lawmakers to protect the right of its member companies to sue.

Josten sent a letter the Washington lawmakers voicing concern about a provision in the proposed rescue plan for U.S. auto companies that would restrict the right of the companies from “participating in, pursuing, funding, or supporting in any way, any legal challenge (existing or contemplated) to State laws concerning greenhouse gas emission standards.”

Leaving that provision in the legislation “would not only deny the manufacturers their basic constitutional right to use the federal courts to redress what they believe are unwise or unfair policy decisions, but it could conceivably also deny the automobile manufacturers the right to participate with trade associations (such as the U.S. Chamber), or environmental groups, in litigation for or against such policies.

“Not only would the terms of the bridge loan remove the automobile manufacturers’ constitutional rights,” Josten continues, “but the terms could force these unrelated third parties to forfeit their constitutional rights to sue as well, because they would be ‘supported in any way’ if the automobile manufacturers are part of their membership.”

Just this week, the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform launched a website and television ad campaign against excessive lawsuits.

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