Mike Welch's column in the July 30, 2003 issue ("Time Has Come To Sue the ABA") expressed a wish that many in the credit union movement have felt for a long time. For those of us privileged to represent the movement as lawyers, bringing such a suit is what we dream about at night. I want to assure your readers that CUNA will not hesitate to pursue any case that is based on a sound analysis of legal principles and public policy considerations. We closely monitor the banking industry's tactics and this scrutiny is increasing. Of course, we cannot litigate on a whim or to make credit unions feel better. We need facts that give rise to what the courts will accept as a serious case. Part of credit unions' success in Congress, the courts, and public opinion comes from our reputation as responsible, judicious people. Our friends and allies respect us for the fact that, unlike the ABA, we are not hair-trigger litigators who use the courts to harass, rather than to win. Our litigation strategy must fit with our overall goal of always wearing the white hat in the public policy arena. I am convinced that the banking industry knows that we watch it carefully. The bankers, I believe, try to manage their anti-credit union campaign to stop just short of the kind of harassment that a court would find unlawful. Sooner or later, they may cross the line. To know when that occurs, we need help from the credit unions and Leagues who see what the banks are doing "in the field." We actively welcome information from all sources that might be useful in court, and we know how to file cases. One of the prices we pay for freedom in this country is that the First Amendment protects freedom of expression even for the undeserving. The ABA is masterful at pushing its First Amendment rights to the edge of abuse. Fortunately, credit unions have such rights, too. Even when we cannot litigate, we can make sure that political leaders understand the game that the bankers are playing. That is why political activism is even more important than legal activism for credit unions and their members. Eric L. Richard General Counsel Credit Union National Association Washington, D.C.

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