January 5, 2005


Bush to Seek Limits on Lawsuits: Fierce Battle Over Curbs Is Expected (Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris, January 5, 2005, Washington Post)

Empowered by reelection and a more Republican Congress, President Bush and his White House aides are betting that 2005 will be the year for big strides in the longtime conservative crusade to curb lawsuits and bring to heel trial lawyers who profit at the expense of corporations.

But as Bush heads to Illinois this morning to launch a major campaign to change the nation's laws on medical-malpractice and class-action lawsuits, allies on Capitol Hill and top business groups warn that prospects for change are less favorable than many had assumed after Bush's victory two months ago.

The recently publicized problems of pharmaceutical companies and a handful of GOP dissidents spell trouble for one of the most far-reaching proposals in the Senate -- the same place where Democrats and their trial-lawyer supporters have managed to kill similar measures in recent years, according to business lobbyists and Senate leadership aides. [...]

The House has routinely passed legislation limiting lawsuits. But the problematic arithmetic of the Senate -- where backers of Bush's agenda on lawsuits have often shown they can win a majority, but not the 60 votes needed to end debate and push legislation to passage -- sets up an important test of a second-term influence and governing strategy.

There's a raft of vulnerable--in one way or another--Democratic seats in '06--target them and get business to put up big money for their opponents if they filibuster issues like this.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 5, 2005 9:54 AM

Of course the Dems are going to fight this - aren't trial lawyers their #1 constituency now?

The new math of the Senate is 55 GOP, 45 against. All of the freshman GOP seem to be solid conservatives. So the GOP needs to hold the RINO defections to 4 or less to get something passed. If the RINO defections are more than 5 then you need to bring alons some of the vulnerable Dems.

Posted by: AWW at January 5, 2005 10:11 AM

Unforunately, the real problem is in the change in legal theory adopted by the judges in our court system, where the goal is no longer justice but compassion, i.e. compensating the suffering. The cause of the suffering is now irrelevant. Arbitrarily curbing lawsuits and damage awards will just patch over the problem, sort of.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at January 5, 2005 11:26 AM

The rot goes even deeper. In a previous career when I unfortunately dealt with many attorneys, I would routinely ask what their concept of justice was, and I always received the same answer: due process. When I had the temerity to point out that defendants in Soviet show trials also received due process, the sputtering reply was something like: but they didn't allow 'true' due process.

This, of course, totally misses the point. In the pursuit of justice, truth must be paramount. When procedures and evidentiary rules prevent admission of pertinent facts, or when attorneys are not even allowed to suggest that a law is unjust for fear of jury nullification, then justice is perverted, replaced by the allowed rules and procedures (i.e., due process), and it becomes a game for the legal elites. It is then only natural that liability litigation should increase, since there are always some greedy individuals and anything is acceptable as long as it follows the rules. This type of thinking has even perverted our morality, when anyone argues that something is not immoral simply because it is not illegal.

The legal system's philosophy has it exactly backwards: the goal should be justice with due process a means, instead due process has become the goal and justice is lost.

Posted by: jd watson at January 5, 2005 3:25 PM