The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 1875. If the
bill were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend
that he veto it.
Class actions play an important role in making the courts available to all
Americans. When a company profits by violating the rights of or injuring
thousands of individuals, but the harm to each is small, a class action may
be the only practical way to vindicate their rights and deter similar
behavior. State class actions have been brought to remedy injuries
stemming from fraud, defective and dangerous products, discrimination
prohibited under State law, and negligence causing widespread public health
or environmental damage. A class action is the most efficient and
practical way to resolve the common issues in these cases. Class actions
also can reduce inconsistent judgments and lower judicial costs - benefits
to our system of justice and all its participants.
H.R. 1875 would mean that a large number of class actions would be
transferred from State to Federal court. Transferred class actions that do
not meet Federal class certification standards not only would be dismissed
from Federal court, but also could not be brought as class actions in State
court. Those plaintiffs would be denied class relief - in many cases their
only effective remedy. As a result, many State residents would effectively
be denied access to their own State courts. And State policy choices about
class action litigation would be preempted - a dramatic break from our
Federal system's traditional deference to State choices about the
procedures to be used in their courts.
Moreover, H.R. 1875 would move substantial numbers of State class actions
to Federal courts at a time when the Chief Justice, among others, has
repeatedly expressed serious concerns about the increasingly burdensome
workload of the Federal courts. Class actions are among the most
resource-intensive cases before the Federal judiciary. H.R. 1875 would
unnecessarily overburden the Federal courts with cases that often deal
solely with State law.
Proponents argue that H.R. 1875 is needed to stop abuses of class actions.
But removing these cases to federal court is no solution because class
action abuses can occur regardless of venue. In short, while passage of
H.R. 1875 will not end the alleged problem of class action abuses, it will
impose a high cost on injured plaintiffs, our system of federalism, and the
resources of the Federal judiciary. It will limit the availability of
class actions as a viable remedy for those with bona fide claims who are
unable to afford a suit of their own; it will infringe significantly on
State courts' ability to offer redress and provide a convenient forum for
their citizens; and it will expand the already overloaded Federal docket,
thus threatening the ability of the Federal courts to provide anything
resembling swift justice to civil litigants.