When was the last time – outside of a political science seminar – that you heard the phrase “conservative judicial activism”? In connection with the Taney Court, perhaps, which issued the notorious Dred Scot decision in 1853? In the wake of the truncated aftermath of Election 2000? Perhaps never. Perhaps you should hear it more often.
Whose side is Bush on – the companies’ or the troops’?
CBS News reported this week that thousands of National Guard troops are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to find that they have been fired in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The CBS report went on to say that increasing numbers of National Guard and Reserve troops who have returned from war are encountering new battles with their civilian employers at home. Government sources quoted by the Public Broadcasting System report that jobs were eliminated, benefits reduced and promotions forgotten for over 4000 returning Guard and Reservists since 2001.
A notion widely accepted by the public is that medical malpractice awards have been rising dramatically in the United States, driving up the cost of healthcare and forcing physicians out of practice. This impression has been fostered by physician organizations, the hospital and insurance industries, and other groups favoring "tort reform" as a rationale for imposing legislative caps on medical malpractice verdicts.
The Canadian public has been influenced by right-wing and corporate media, much of it emanating from the United States, to have a negative view of trial lawyers and to perceive a need for "tort reform". Canadian trial lawyers and liberals would do well to learn from the U.S.
This is a much-condensed version of the Commonweal Institute report with the same title. Author David C. Johnson wrote this article at the request of this Canadian law journal, as the same organizations and individuals that are seeking to undermine the civil justice system in the United States are carrying out a similar campaign in other Anglophone countries.
Read the article.
Remarks by David C. Johnson, Luncheon speaker at the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) Annual Convention educational session titled, "Tort Reform: An International Problem With International Solutions" Boston, July 7, 2004
Here's a bad day for a trial lawyer:
You turn on the Morning Show and they're talking about how the high cost of lawsuits is raising the price of medical care.
The Commonweal Institute report, The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law, is available online in two formats: HTML, which means viewable online as web pages (better for slower connections) and PDF format, which can be viewed or downloaded for printing
For additional information, please visit Commonweal Institute's Information Page -- A collection of links to articles, reports and resources for learning about the right-wing movement, its history, how it is funded and how it operates.
ON YOUR OWN?
This article, written by the Communications Director of the Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers and published in the Winter 2004 issue of The Verdict (v.27:1), draws upon the work of Commonweal Institute Fellow Dave Johnson in describing how the "civil justice system has come under a systematic, multi-dimensional assault spearheaded by right-wing foundations such as the Wisconsin-based Bradley Foundation."
This comprehensive report describes the conservative movement's goals and methods in its sustained, effective campaign to undermine the civil justice system. A network of seemingly-independent organizations is funded by a small cluster of conservative foundations, motivated both by an ideology interest in weakening constraints on the conduct of corporate entitities and a political agenda that seeks to limit trial lawyers' ability to contribute money to "the left". The so-called "tort reform" movement utilizes an extensive conservatve communications network to disseminate ideological messages to the public and political leaders. A coordinated, strategic communications and marketing campaign will be required to counter this assault on the civil justice system.
Emerging cultural and political trends merit particular attention because they hold both peril and opportunity. The decisions we make today - or do not make - can have profound consequences for future generations, so it is important to address such issues now, as they arise, rather than fighting a rear-guard action down the road.
How can we begin to shape constructive attitudes and behaviors toward new technologies, social phenomena, and economic or political changes? How should we interpret and respond to such developments, and what should we be on the look-out for? What are the policy implications of emerging cultural trends? These are among the questions we should have in mind as we try to look around the corner.
This article takes on the issue of new data-collection and data-analysis technology and the potential threats it poses to personal privacy.