Peter Rodino, long-time Congressman from Newark's North Ward who chaired the House Judiciary Committee hearing that produced articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon in 1974, died eight days ago in West Orange (where, for some reason, he had moved at some point white flight?). When he left Congress (after 40 years!), he worked in Newark as a professor at the Seton Hall Law School, where viewings have been held yesterday and today. His funeral service is to be held tomorrow at Saint Lucy's in the North Ward, not far from the Cathedral.
I was surprised that none of the biographies I saw in researching this blog entry mentioned the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, the thing I knew him best for, from years of working for lawyers. On the event of the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of that act, Mr. Rodino, then 92, sent a message to the Federal Trade Commission in which he said:
Together, we stopped "midnight mergers." I'm sure I don't have to tell the FTC about the harm that some of these mergers could cause the harm could be irreparable. The government spent years in litigation fighting just one merger. But even when it won, competition was often impossible to restore. The merged company already had closed plants, cut jobs and scrambled assets. Consumers ended up the losers, left paying higher prices. That had to be corrected.
Hart-Scott-Rodino was intended to give the anti-trust agencies two things: critical information about a proposed merger and time to analyze that information and prepare a case, if necessary. From what I hear, the legislation absolutely has transformed merger enforcement. Competition, as well as the consumer, has benefitted.
Rodino was elected to Congress 20 times. Toward the end of his tenure, when the demographics of his district had changed, there were calls for him to step aside to let a black man take his place. When he finally retired, my current Congressman, Donald Payne, took his place, which I did not know. Nor did I know that Payne was the first black Congressman from New Jersey.
Altho Peter Rodino moved out of Newark, first to Maplewood and then to West Orange, he retained important connections to the city, and of course much of Essex County is just Greater Newark, much affected by the dynamics of the center.
Channel 7's biography says:
His congressional mementos and papers are stored and displayed at the Peter W. Rodino Jr. Law Library at Seton Hall Law School [in Downtown Newark]. The Rodino Institute for Criminal Justice at Jersey City State College also is named after him, as is the federal office building in Newark.
Rodino's entry in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress contains what I found a puzzling reference to his having "graduated from the University of Newark and from the New Jersey Law School". Neither of those entities exists today.
It turns out that the New Jersey Law School was once a separate institution but was merged in 1935 with four other institutions to create the University of Newark, and 11 years later (1946), the state legislature merged the University of Newark into Rutgers, as its Newark Campus.
Governor McGreevey's proposal to merge Rutgers, NJIT, and UMDNJ was stopped by objections from various quarters. But maybe that larger consolidation will also eventually go thru. Or maybe the Newark Campus of Rutgers, NJIT, UMDNJ Newark and even Seton Hall Law School and Essex County College can merge into a new University of Newark. There's no urgency to either change.