The Real Bush Revolution
The president is following a two-pronged strategy on judicial change. First, there is the appointment of carefully vetted conservative judges to the federal bench. Already he has appointed some 200 district and appeals court judges – Democrats blocked only a handful of appeals court appointments during his first term. These are lifetime judges who will set the course of American jurisprudence for decades. President Bush has shown that he will not compromise on appointments by his action in reappointing seven judges that Democrats blocked during the first term.
Commentators have focused on the significance of Bush’s judicial appointments for social and moral issues like abortion, gay rights, and separation of church and state. Yet of paramount importance to this administration is the appointment of business-friendly judges who will respect the autonomy of business and approach skeptically any claims for grievances against corporate America. Ultimately the appointments strategy, the administration anticipates, will culminate in the appointment of new Supreme Court Justices, including a Chief Justice. Lest we forget, President John Adams served a single term in office. His Federalist Party never again won a presidential election or gained control of Congress. Yet his Chief Justice appointee John Marshall served for more than thirty years and put the stamp of federalism on American law.
The other prong of the president’s strategy is to restrict access to the courts and limit the power of juries. You are living in a dream world if you believe the real problem with American civil justice is that the little guy is milking the big corporation. Anyone with any experience in the justice system knows how heavily stacked it is in favor of those with money and how tough it is for anyone else to have their grievances redressed. The president is intent on making it yet tougher for ordinary Americans to exercise their Seventh Amendment Right to trial by jury in civil cases. Incidentally, another objective here is to weaken the trial lawyers who form such an important fund-raising base for the Democratic Party.
Already the administration has passed with little public attention and fanfare legislation that will make it more difficult to bring class action suits against major business interests. He is also pursuing other legislation to restrict jury awards in tort cases.
We would do well today to heed the words of Thomas Jefferson:
“There are also certain fences which experience has proved peculiarly efficacious against wrong, and rarely obstructive of right, which yet the governing powers have ever shown a disposition to weaken and remove … trial by jury, habeas corpus laws, free presses.”
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John H. Lederer - 3/5/2005
"Already the administration has passed with little public attention and fanfare legislation that will make it more difficult to bring class action suits against major business interests."
The act makes it easier to bring or remove a class action in federal court. Thus it opens a formerly closed set of courts.
It does make it harder for the plaintiff's lawyer to force a national class action to stay in a state court by carefully choosing named palintiffs.
The act also protects the class by requiring that releases be written in simple language, that courts examine closely settlements that benefit the lawyers by money but only give the consumers coupons for discounts from the manufacturer and other similar items.
A summary of the key provisions are at:
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