By Jake Kaplan

Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against American Airlines and JetBlue.

  • In 2020, the airlines formed a “Northeast Alliance” that, according to the airlines, would expand services to and from the New York and Boston airports, upgrade aircrafts, and permit codesharing (a process that allows airlines to sell seats on flights operated by other airlines). The Trump administration’s Department of Transportation approved the partnership in January. 
  • But in the new lawsuit, DOJ, joined by six states and the District of Columbia, accused the airlines of creating a “de facto merger” to dominate the New York and Boston markets, which would “cause hundreds of millions of dollars in harm to air passengers across the country through higher fares and reduced choice.” 
  • In response to the lawsuit, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said, “Ironically, the Department of Justice’s lawsuit seeks to take away consumer choice and inhibit competition, not encourage it.”

It was a busy week for President Joe Biden and Congress.

  • On Tuesday, Biden delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in which he urged fellow global leaders to unite to fight the biggest challenges facing the world, including the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflicts, and the climate crisis. Biden said, “As we close this period of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy.”
  • The State Department announced plans to increase the number of refugees permitted to enter the United States during the next fiscal year that begins in October. The new cap will be 125,000 refugees, doubled from the previous limit of 62,500.
  • With a government shutdown looming, the House of Representatives passed a bill to fund the government through the beginning of December and suspend the debt limit. All 220 Democratic representatives voted for the measure, while all 211 Republicans voted against it (one Republican representative did not vote). The bill is likely to hit a roadblock in the evenly split Senate.
  • House Democrats also introduced the “Protecting Our Democracy Act,” a bill intended to curb presidential powers. According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the measure would ensure checks and balances between Congress and the executive branch “so that no president of whatever party can ever assume that he or she has the power to usurp the power of the other branches of government.”