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The Legal Intelligencer Op-Ed: The Weaponization of Consumer Protection Laws

By Phil Goldberg

Advocacy groups and elected leaders are trying to weaponize consumer protection acts around the country to open new, national public-policy branches of government: state and local courts. Consumer protection lawsuits are filed—not to protect local consumers—but skirt Congress, state legislatures and regulatory agencies to drive national policy agendas.

These cases often involve important issues, including climate change and sustainability. Developing solutions, including figuring out how to source and use energy to sustain both modern life and the planet, are among the most pressing public policy matters of our day. Establishing the government’s priorities for them are squarely within the domain of legislatures and regulators, which have the institutional tools to address these issues and have been hard at work on them.

Instead of working through these policy-making branches of government, the advocacy groups and elected officials bringing these cases are trying to work around them. So, they file claims under state’s consumer protection laws against manufacturers and other companies that operate in these spaces. Their goal is to impose their preferred public policies onto the industry through the courts and, at the same time, silence those who might disagree with them.

Read the full op-ed here.