A group of 10 state attorneys general, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, filed a multistate lawsuit Monday to stop the pending $26 billion deal.
The antitrust lawsuit claims that the merger would "deprive consumers of the benefits of competition and drive up prices for cellphone services." The suit was filed in New York federal court in coordination with Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Connecticut, Virginia, and Wisconsin, the New York attorney general's office announced.
"The T-Mobile and Sprint merger would not only cause irreparable harm to mobile subscribers nationwide by cutting access to affordable, reliable wireless service for millions of Americans, but would particularly affect lower-income and minority communities here in New York and in urban areas across the country," New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. "That's why we are going to court to stop this merger and protect our consumers, because this is exactly the sort of consumer-harming, job-killing megamerger our antitrust laws were designed to prevent."
T-Mobile and Sprint did not immediately respond to a CNET request for comment.
In a press conference, James said that by opposing the deal the attorneys general are "standing up for consumers, standing up for economic development and standing up innovation and standing up for lower prices."
James did, however, say that her office has reached out to the Department of Justice, T-Mobile and Sprint and that "negotiations are ongoing."
Reuters first reported that the 10 attorneys general were looking to block the deal.
Since being, T-Mobile's push to merge with Sprint has been met with strong government pushback over concerns it would harm competition. In February, nine Senate Democrats signed a letter addressed to Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai , writing that the merger is "likely to raise prices for consumers, harm workers, stifle competition, exacerbate the digital divide, and undermine innovation."
Several presidential candidates signed off on the letter, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
House Democrats, led by freshman congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, followed suit shortly thereafter by sending a similar letter to Pai and Department of Justice head Makan Delrahim outlining their opposition to the deal, stressing how it would "disproportionately hurt lower-income people and communities of color." That letter was signed by 36 other representatives.
In May Pai and the FCC gave a thumbs up to the deal with the chairman touting the deal's potential improvements for 5G network deployment and increasing coverage in rural America. The DOJ has yet to rule, though the staff of the department has recommended that the.
James said the litigation will continue even if the DOJ approves the merger. "DOJ and FCC have broad standards," James told reporters. "We are viewing this primarily through the lens of competition, prices, innovation... as a result of our review, based upon the law, we've come to a determination that it is a violation of antitrust laws."
T-Mobile and Sprint have a deadline of July 29 to complete their merger.
Update, 10 a.m. PT: Adds New York attorney general comment.
Update, 10:26 a.m. PT: The New York attorney general's office clarified that Connecticut, not Nevada, had participated in the lawsuit.
Update, 1:02 p.m. PT: Adds additional comment from the New York attorney general.