NIU Law’s Widman testifies before Congress

NIU Today
Monday, February 13, 2012

Amy Widman, an assistant professor in the NIU College of Law, testified Feb. 2 before the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee – Subcommittee on the Constitution in Washington, D.C.

Widman was asked to testify in support of her recently published article, “State Attorneys General’s Use of Concurrent Public Enforcement Authority in Federal Consumer Protection Laws,” which she co-authored with University of Minnesota Law School Professor Prentiss Cox in the October 2011 issue of the Cardozo Law Review.

“Our article examined how and when state attorneys general enforce federal consumer protection laws,” Widman said.

For the past three decades, Congress has passed consumer protection statutes that allow for state attorneys general to enforce the federal law alongside the federal agency.

While critics of state enforcement of federal law claim that such concurrent authority will result in over-enforcement or even enforcement contrary to the federal law, Widman’s study was the first to examine what in fact has happened historically.

She concludes that states have used their authority responsibly, and federal agencies have worked cooperatively with the states.  The cooperation between the federal agencies and states in the use of concurrent enforcement power was the most striking finding in that it greatly minimizes the fear that the laws will be enforced inconsistently.

“It was an honor to be invited to Congress and testify before the subcommittee about my research,”  Widman said. “As a professor of legislation and administrative law, the experience was also a nice complement to my teaching.”

Widman has a background in areas of consumer protection and legislation. She joined the NIU Law faculty in 2011 and teaches torts, administrative law and legislation.

Previously, she served as legal director at the Center for Justice & Democracy, a non-partisan consumer advocacy group. There she organized legislative campaigns to support the civil justice system.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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