Traditionally, the lawyers who work for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have focused their attention on cases in the interest of business at the Supreme Court level. But lately, this small group of litigation attorneys has been expanding their reach.
The legal department’s litigation group has now begun taking on cases beyond those headed to the high court—adding to their docket those that simply may have an impact on business interests. This year, the group has been involved in 84 cases, oftentimes filing friend-of-the-court briefs and sometimes challenging specific government regulations. In 2012 and 2011, it worked on 63 and 58 cases, respectively.
"Most cases in this country are not resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court," Rachel Brand, a senior lawyer with the chamber's litigation group, the National Chamber Litigation Center, told Reuters. "If you really want to expand your influence you have to be in other courts. A lot of law is made by state courts in particular."
The chamber’s court filings point to the increase resulting from expanded actions in state courts and federal appeals courts.
While the chamber has seen some successes in its increased involvement outside of the Supreme Court, critics are keeping an eye on the activity.
"You can't help but notice how successful the National Chamber Litigation Center has been before the Supreme Court," Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, which opposes the Chamber on some issues, told Reuters. "It certainly requires organizations that support appropriate regulations of businesses and the free market system to take notice and respond appropriately."
In addition to its Supreme Court work in 2013, the chamber has also filed briefs in cases before the high courts in three states (Texas, Minnesota and Tennessee), has filed six friend-of-the-court briefs in the California Supreme Court this year, and three in New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals.
Read more about this story on Reuters.
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