Chamber: Reign in Activist State Attorneys General

  • Home >
  • Resources >
  • Chamber: Reign in Activist State Attorneys General
May 25, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C.— At a conference on the proper role of state attorneys general, the United States Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today released research showing the serious threat posed by activist state attorneys general and called for legislative reforms that will restore the public’s faith in government. The conference also featured remarks by three current state attorneys general, Steve Carter (R-IN), Thurbert Baker (D-GA) and Tom Corbett (R-PA).

"It is time to reign in activist attorneys general," said Lisa Rickard, president of ILR. "They operate with little regard for the authority of state and federal legislators, and their contingency fee deals with private plaintiffs’ attorneys undermine the public’s faith in government."

At the conference, several important topics were explored, including the proper role of the state attorney general, the current and future role of the National Association of Attorneys General and whether or not attorneys general are undermining the rule of law.

In Government by Indictment, presented at the conference, AEI scholar Michael Greve warns of the dangers of AG activism and says that many AG indictments are filed without intent to litigate, but rather to extract settlements from defendants.

In Bounty Hunters on the Prowl: the Troubling Alliance of State Attorneys General and Plaintiffs’ Lawyers attorney John Beisner says that in many instances, plaintiffs’ attorneys approach state AGs with a proposed lawsuit, spearhead the effort and benefit financially from any settlement.

At today’s conference, ILR called upon state legislatures to adopt the “Private Attorney Retention Sunshine Act,” the American Legislative Exchange Counsel’s model legislation for regulation of contingency fee contracts between state AGs and plaintiffs’ attorneys. The Chamber also urged state legislatures to help curb AG activism by asserting their constitutional powers to regulate corporate behavior.

The mission of the ILR is to make America's legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.