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The American Bar Association bills itself as “Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice.” To that list it might add “Violating Consent Decrees.” On June 23, the Justice Department asked U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to order the ABA to show cause why it shouldn’t be held in civil contempt for violating terms of a 1996 antitrust settlement with the government. In the original suit, filed more than a decade ago, DOJ’s Antitrust Division accused the ABA of driving up tuition costs by forcing law schools to raise professors’ salaries in order to be accredited. Among the violations of the consent decree: failing to ensure that no more than half the membership of the ABA Standards Review Committee be law faculty, and failing to provide proposed changes to accreditation standards to the Justice Department before they’re enacted. In a June 23 court filing, the ABA acknowledged violating six provisions of the consent decree and agreed to reimburse the government $185,000 for the costs of its investigation. “The Antitrust Division takes compliance with court decrees very seriously,” said Justice antitrust chief Thomas Barnett in a statement. The ABA is being represented by a team of lawyers including David Roll, Robert Fleishman, and Thomas Barba of the D.C. office of Steptoe & Johnson. An ABA spokeswoman declined comment.
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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