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Corporations and the Constitution

PO Box 19405, Washington, DC 20036
1.202.387.8030 V. Fax

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Institute for Legal Reform/National Chamber Litigation Center
1615 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20062-2000

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) was founded in 1998 as a tax-exempt 501(c)6 organization, which is a separately incorporated affiliate of the Chamber of Commerce. 501(c)6 non-profits are not required to dedicate assets to charitable purposes, can engage in legislative and political activity (political activity is taxed) and can serve the business purpose of its members.

The primary issue that ILR concerns itself with are class action lawsuits. It works to strengthen class certification rules. Its goal is to move far more class-action lawsuits to federal courts, rather than state courts, which are usually more generous to litigants. They also desire to seek new trial guidelines, including giving judges discretion over the size of awards, rather than juries, mandating jury instructors to educate juries on legal precedent, and limiting or eliminating punitive damages in class action cases. They support the tort reform bill known as the Class Action Fairness Act (S. 2062), and in 2004 lobbied aggressively for its passage.

ILR coordinates its activities with the National Chamber Litigation Center, another separately incorporated affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. NCLC was founded in 1977 and litigates on behalf of business interests. NCLC focuses on four ways to move the corporate agenda forward. First, it takes on litigation that is too costly for a single business, usually targeting what it deems to be anti-business laws and regulations. Second, it files amicus briefs in cases where it feels a business principle is at stake. Third, it runs a moot court program, helping the counsel retained by corporations to prepare for Supreme Court arguments. This was originally intended to help inexperienced lawyers, though many veteran attorneys have begun to participate. Lastly, the NCLC has a media relations component which educates the media on the business perspective on legal issues, and illustrates how pro-business decisions help the nation.

Funding: Both NCLC and ILR are fully integrated into the fabric of the Chamber of Commerce. Since they are separately incorporated and cannot directly share funding. However, their web sites are integrated and share content, and they share a common headquarters. Given their status, it is difficult to discern their revenue and spending.

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