LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) — The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. and its subsidiary Standard & Poor’s Rating Services argue, in a federal court filing this week, that the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the ratings agency was filed “in retaliation” for its downgrade of the nation’s credit rating in 2011.
“Plaintiff commenced this action in retaliation for Defendants’ exercise of their free speech rights with respect to the creditworthiness of the United States of America. Such free speech is protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the retaliation, causing and embodied in the commencement of this impermissibly selective, punitive and meritless litigation, is unconstitutional,” lawyers for the credit ratings agency wrote in a 72-page answer, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Tuesday.
The agency’s lead attorney is John Keker of San Francisco-based Keker & Van Nest, who once represented prominent Mississippi attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs.
“Only S&P Ratings downgraded the United States and only S&P Ratings has been sued by the United States, even though the S&P ratings challenged by the United States were no different than those of at least one other rating agency and other rating agencies have made the same assertions of ‘independence’ that are challenged in the Complaint as against S&P,” Keker wrote.
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