Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) has made his fight against the card networks a front-and-center issue at every opportunity, including a message one of his senior counsels delivered to a merchant trade group this past week.
“This is going to foreclose the prospect of good legislation for the foreseeable future,” Dan Swanson, senior judiciary counsel for the Illinois Democrat, said in a conference call with the Food Marketing Institute. “It will essentially be game over.”
Citing the broad release of claims contained in the settlement, which will effectively protect the Visa and MasterCard networks (here and in other regions of the world) from merchant lawsuits, Durbin has used his bully pulpit to rally merchants against the court ratifying the final settlement. There can be little doubt that if approved by the court, any future legal recourse will be hard to imagine.
Even though a number of prominent merchants have come out against the settlement, others are playing their cards closer to the vest. But the really interesting conversations are taking place behind the scenes. Some analysts consider the court is not inclined to go back to the table on this suit and the election cycle impact offers no legislative certainty now or in the future. Merchants are facing a checkmate, but this situation could simply add even more impetus to any plans to circumvent the networks altogether. Game over or turn the tables?
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