Business, AGs growing apart, former Solicitor General says

By John O'Brien | Mar 6, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A former legal advisor to President Clinton warned state attorneys general Tuesday that there is a growing problem between them and big businesses.

Walter Dellinger, also a former acting Solicitor General and currently a professor at Duke University Law School, made the comments at the National Association of Attorneys General's Supreme Court Perspectives Luncheon at its spring meeting.

"This is getting to be a huge area as state AGs become more active in enforcing consumer protection laws and other laws," Dellinger said.

Dellinger and Theodore Olson were providing a discussion on the U.S. Supreme Court while the AGs ate lunch. Olson was the country's 42nd Solicitor General.

Dellinger attempted to explain businesses' position on multi-state litigation initiated by the AGs.

"They're trying compete with the European common market, and they've got 51 different systems of regulation," he said.

Whether certain systems of regulation are right or wrong is irrelevant -- businesses just want a predictable business climate, Dellinger added.

Meanwhile, he said attorneys general are only trying to do a job that federal agencies have failed to.

"Why weren't federal agents dealing with these problems?" he said. "Once they were exposed, they were proved real."

Dellinger commented that Chief Justice John Roberts, fresh off his first year on the job, has not yet shown if he will lean toward the business or state side.

However, he said Roberts has the potential to be an extraordinary chief justice.

"The chief justice has come on the job with a set of skills no other chief justice has brought to the job," he said, later adding that his wife has told him before that he needs to be more like Roberts.

"As an advocate, I hope," Dellinger said.

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