Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Orrin Hatch (R, UT) and Tort Reform...

So i was watching CSPAN (as i have taken to doing) and saw Orrin Hatch talking about the proposed tort reform. Technically i saw the end of Lehay's speech on the matter and then the start of Hatch's. Well, in any case: Hatch argued that the proposed tort reform (as i understand it: tort lawsuits must be brought at a federal level) is vital to stopping bad lawyers from extracting outrageous sums and (his words) going "district shopping" for favorable judges.

Aside from the fact that this is merely a recitation of the original proposed reasoning and failed to take into account any of Lehay's objections at all; and aside from the fact that i don't necessarily think district shopping is a bad thing (corporations shop out favorable locations to set up shop and do their various businesses--why can't normal citizens?) although i would agree that lawyers ought not be able to steal the proverbial farm: Hatch's primary evidence of lawyerly misconduct was from works of fiction. Literally. As in: books that go into the "fiction" section of your library. Like "The King of Torts", a book about lawyers who abuse the legal system. That's one of the things he used. He wants to reform the legal system based on situations that are entirley imaginary.

I need to invent new adjectives to describe how fucking crazy this is.

New adjectives!

I'm not going to say that the American legal system is totally just and that there's simply no room for changes--it's clearly not--but this and related pieces of legislation don't really address the problem. Rather, they gut key provisions of our legal system (in this instance: the ability to bring class action lawsuits). By forcing all class action suits to go through the more reliable federal courts the law hopes to negate the "district shopping".

That's nice. But there's one problem: the federal courts are not currently set up to handle that many cases. So, simply by the fact that there aren't enough judges or places to hold a trial you're going to end up with the majority of the cases thrown out. Only the most extreme will make it through, furthermore: not only will ramming thousands of cases through the federal courts force the courts to toss class action suits out but it will also force the courts to ignore other cases.

In other words, this legislation will hinder the ability of the Federal courts to actually provide justice. The courts, of course, are vital to a functioning democracy.

But of course: that's no mere accident.

This seems to be the retribution from the class action suits of the past few years. Firestone tires and Minnesota's class action suit against cigarette companies has made others sit up and pay attention.

"Holy shit!", goes the cry, "We're not in control here! We're vulnerable! We have to put a stop to this! How can we make a profit when people can sue us after being hurt by our stuff?"

So we get a bill that strips the ability to sue away.

And what does Senator Hatch justify this bill on? Not on providing companies with immunity from the consequences of their actions but on fictional accounts of Evile Triale Lawyers.

We're not talking about just undoing the New Deal here, people. We're talking about undoing stuff from the Declaration of Independence on forward.

But then again: Senator Hatch has had some troubles in the past with these sorts of laws. There was the one time he proposed an anti-copyright law that was in violation of federal anti-hacking law--and not only that, but a law Senator Hatch himself violated blatantly.

Other stuff...

Mark Dayton set to retire, apparently. I hope the backlash from Tim "Moron" Pawlenty hits these elections hard...

Meanwhile: "You will address us as 'LORD KARL ROVE'! Just as soon as we finish with all these meetings, at least..."


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