Restrictions on 7th Amendment, pain and suffering jury verdicts, and empowering a “ruling class” in America
Last Thursday, I commented on a piece by conservative darling Fred Thompson. I discussed why our civil justice system, especially personal injury lawyers and trial lawyers, represent “true” conservative Republican values. Sadly, it is a notion increasingly lost in a Republican party establishment that opposes any restrictions on business – no matter how legitimate – and no matter how corrupt or reckless and negligent that business might be, or what harms it may cause.
I’ve received several e-mails, including this from a reader on why the Tea Party movement — which places so much emphasis on respect for the U.S. Constitution and the wisdom of the founding fathers — must also support and protect the civil justice system, the constitutional right to trial by jury, and should fiercely oppose efforts by big insurance companies to place unconstitutional caps and limits on pain and suffering awards. As the author, Andrew Cochran, writes that all of these efforts are unconstitutional limitations on the 7th Amendment:
“Promoting the 7th Amendment is the “right” thing to do to avoid being a political hypocrite of the type that Tea Partiers want to remove from power. Republicans and Tea Partiers uphold the 1st Amendment in the face of a biased and inaccurate media elite, and we defend the 2nd Amendment in the face of serial shooters. We should protect and promote the 7th Amendment at all times…”
As a personal injury lawyer, I don’t necessarily agree with all of the author’s arguments. But I fully agree with his two final points – that placing limits on the civil justice system (including tort restrictions on pain and suffering and car accident lawsuits) dangerously empowers activist judges, bureaucrats, and a “ruling class” that can be above the law and unaccountable for its wrongdoings, and that the founding fathers created this important protection for all Americans.
I’ll also note, as a personal matter, that it amazes me that the Republican party today sees no hypocrisy in staunchly supporting the 2nd Amendments right to bear arms, but they are happy to accept unconstitutional limitations on the 7th Amendment, and the protections the founding fathers gave to all citizens by the right to jury trial. I guess insurance company and big tobacco contributions outweighs the Bill of Rights.
Protecting the 7th Amendment is and should be a critical Tea Party priority
Here’s a link to the full piece: Why protecting the 7th Amendment should be a Republican and Tea Party priority. In the meantime, I noted a couple of Andew Cocharan’s great points.
6. LIMITING CIVIL JUSTICE EMPOWERS JUDGES, BUREAUCRATS & “RULINGCLASS,” AND DEGRADES LOCAL CONTROL: We already see a chasm between the ruling class and the rest of the country along numerous political and social fault lines. Federally imposed limits on the civil justice process, such as the preemption of state statutory and common law for certain claims or restrictions in federal civil pleading standards, only cede more power to the judiciary and federal bureaucrats. Putting complete control over certain products or services (e.g., implantable medical devices or financial services) in the hands of federal bureaucrats (the FDA or Treasury, respectively), with total immunity for the companies involved, is simply not the system of justice that the Founding Fathers intended to build. To reiterate what another conservative said, “The tort system promotes local control. Through the jury system, people at the local level decide what is reasonable behavior within their own communities. Ordinary citizens, applying a common sense standard of reasonable care, making decisions about acceptable and unacceptable conduct within their community – that is the essence of local government. And, as a result of those decisions, suppliers of goods and services within the marketplace will often modify their own behaviors… without the necessity of yet another costly and intrusive governmental bureaucracy…”
7. MOST IMPORTANTLY: BECAUSE THE FOUNDING FATHERS SAID IT’S A PRIORITY FOR ALL AMERICANS: There is no question that the Founding Fathers – from Jefferson and Madison and Hamilton, to John Adams, to George Mason, all explicitly said that citizens have the right to have their claims against their neighbors heard by a jury of their peers. It’s mentioned in the Declaration of Independence and was protected in the first Virginia Declaration of Rights.
– Steve Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top personal injury lawyers handling serious car accident and truck accident lawsuits. He routinely writes about “tort reform” and the No-Fault laws in Michigan, and is available for comment.
– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by ragesoss
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