A recent article by Ken Connor for the Center for a Just Society addresses the selective constitutionalism that Republicans apply to the civil justice system. Mr. Connor described how the civil justice system has been the victim of a vicious public relations battle, demonizing lawyers and ridiculing jurors. Special interest groups, including insurance companies, drug companies, and big business cartels have forcefully pursued inhibiting legislation through state and federal legislators, urging them to enact laws that carry out the agendas of special interests, without regard to civil rights. The efforts on behalf of the special interest groups often propose legislative fixes that appear to be aimed at increasing the fairness of the judicial process and lowering the cost of health care. However, they often include artificial caps on damages, draconian limits on liability, and shortened periods of time in which suits may be filed. In reality, these measures are aimed at insulating the wrongdoers – often the special interest groups – from full accountability for their wrongful actions, product liability, and negligent behavior. At the same time, they prevent injured persons from obtaining sufficient and just compensation for their suffering.
Mr. Connor pointed out that it is the Republican Party is often leading the charge for the civil justice system reform. Most recently, Republicans Phil Gingrey and Lamar Smith have proposed HR 5 or the HEALTH Act, which Mr. Connor calls an affront to the Bill of Rights that would result in the imposition of a federally imposed, special-interest driven emasculation of fundamental constitutional rights. The HEALTH Act of 2011 is actually the same exact bill that was passed by the House of Representatives in 2005.
To read more about the bill for “civil justice reform,” visit the Center for A Just Society website.