Last Rev. 03/15/19 07:402am

Problems with a Little-Known Legal Solution

There are various political or other problems that have a legal solution, potentially.

Problem: High Gasoline Prices

For example, the current high gasoline prices. These prices could be brought down to a lower, less unconscionable level, by an action brought by the New York Attorney General under New York General Business Law 396-r. This statute allows the New York Attorney General to seek a court order rolling back unconscionably high prices of any consumer product (including gasoline, the product which caused the statute to be enacted), and to obtain a refund of the overcharges.

Private citizens or residents could maintain a similar lawsuit but would have to do so under the antitrust laws, more than likely. Recently, in a press release, I proposed a solution capable of being implemented, arguably, by the Attorney General, Governor or Legislature of a State. See press release at My proposed solution is to have motor vehicles be given bar codes indicating fuel efficiency, and that gas prices be determined at the pump, by reading of the bar code, with the most fuel-efficient cars paying $1 per gallon and, at the other extreme, cars such as Hummers being charged perhaps $20 per gallon. Also, I would have other inducements, such as no registration or inspection fees; longer parking hours, reduced fines for violations; 5% off of tuition at state or other governmental universities and colleges; use of HOV lanes even though a single car occupant. Also, governmental financing to encourage purchase of efficient cars and destruction of the engines of the fuel guzzlers.

Problem: Opening of New Wal-Mart or Other Superstore

Another major problem all over America with a little-known legal solution is the opening up of a new superstore by Wal-Mart or another major retailer (such as Home Depot or Bed, Bath & Beyond). The opening in theory could be stopped by an injunction lawsuit commenced in federal court. The relief sought would be to enjoin the major retailer from opening up a new store in a defined area (such as within 35 miles of the center of the town) unless and until the major retailer stops violating the Robinson-Patman Act by inducing manufacturers to sell to the major retailer at lower per-unit prices than being paid at the same time by independent competitors of the major retailer, or from knowingly receiving the substantially lower prices knowing that the independent competitors are paying substantially more per unit when they buy the same goods from the same manufacturer.

Useful Analytic Tool: "Justiciable Controversy" or Not

One quick way of determining whether a lawsuit could resolve a dispute is to determine if the controversy is "justiciable" or capable of being resolved by a court. If an issue would require a judge to make a political determination, the judge would ordinarily refuse to do so, stating that the issue is non-justiciable because it is political in nature, without any standards that a judge could use to make a decision under rules of law. A political question has more than one viable solution, and judges are not used to come up with political decisions; this is left to the legislatures and political process.

Problem: Ending War in Iraq

A real hot debate could develop if you brought up the subject of the war in Iraq. Putting the controversy aside, is there any lawsuit that could be filed that could impact such war, one way or the other? One type of lawsuit that probably would be held to be justiciable (even if the lawsuit itself lost after all appeals) would be for a state to file an action to prevent any of its National Guard personnel from being called to active duty as punishment for the state not having voted for the current administration during the preceding general elections, or to obtain an injunction prohibiting call up of reserve units unless they are properly equipped. What I'm trying to say is that the law can and should be used creatively, both from a plaintiff's and a defendant's standpoint.