A bipartisan group of attorneys general from 52 states and territories urged congressional leaders to support antitrust legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck in a June 18 letter organized by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and the top legal officers from three other states.
The letter backs a bill introduced last month by Buck, a Windsor Republican, which would make sure antitrust enforcement actions filed by states remain in the court they select instead of being moved to a court preferred by defendants. Buck argued when he introduced the bill that the moves often result in "serious delays in their cases and additional injuries to the citizens of their states."
"State attorneys general around the country are actively pursuing significant antitrust enforcement actions on behalf of consumers in their respective states," reads the letter, which was signed by the attorneys general from every state but Alabama and Arizona. The attorneys general representing the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands also signed.
Antitrust enforcement actions filed by the federal government can't be transferred to a different court or combined with other litigation, a circumstance Buck says "guarantees the United States retains its homefield advantage in the litigation." His bill would give states the same protection.
Weiser thanked Buck for sponsoring the bill in a statement to Colorado Politics.
“Under current federal law, state AG actions can be transferred into a multidistrict litigation, where they must prosecute their actions alongside private plaintiffs and class plaintiffs, which can result in delays in protecting consumers from anticompetitive harms," he said.
"Actions by federal agencies like the US (Department of Justice) and the FTC, however, cannot be transferred to multidistrict litigation. The State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act would put the state AGs on the same footing as the federal enforcers and prevent transfers of state actions to a multidistrict litigation."
The letter was addressed to the chair and ranking member of each chamber's antitrust subcommittee — U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Mike Lee of Utah, and U.S. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Buck.
It's the latest manifestation of an unusual coalition of conservative and progressive lawmakers coalescing around antitrust legislation led by Cicilline and Buck, aimed at reining in some of the country's largest tech companies.
The two are sponsors or co-sponsors of five related bills introduced earlier this month that have generated ferocious opposition from Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon, four big tech companies frequently targeted by critics of their market dominance.