Fred Thompson a former US Senator from Tennessee recently wrote an op-ed for the Nashville Tennessean in which he gives some great points as to why a true conservative would not be for tort reform. Tort Reform is always a hot issue for the republican party. They love to bash lawyers in order to protect their big business donors. The right to a trial by a jury of ones peers for damages for personal injury is a fundamental part of our Constitution. It drives me crazy when Republicans preach about following the constitution and being constitutionalist but ignore the Seventh Amendment when it is convenient for their corporate buddies. Anyway, Fred Thomson (a Republican) summed it very nicely and below is his analysis. You can find the full article here.
“Some argue that the legislature should tell Tennessee juries that they can award only so much compensation in certain types of cases against certain types of defendants — regardless of the facts and circumstances of the case. I don’t agree with this approach, and I don’t think it’s “conservative.”
To me, conservatism shows due respect for a civil justice system that is rooted in the U.S. Constitution and is the greatest form of private regulation ever created by society. Conservatism is individual responsibility and accountability for damages caused, even unintentionally. It’s about government closest to the people and equal justice with no special rules for anybody. It’s also about respect for the common-law principle of right to trial by jury in civil cases that was incorporated into the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution.
As someone who practiced in the courts of Tennessee for almost 30 years, I believe that a Tennessee jury of average citizens, after hearing all the facts, under the guidance of an impartial judge and limited by the constraints of our appellate courts, is more likely to render justice in a particular case than would one-size-fits-all rules imposed by government, either state or federal.
Our system “ain’t broke.” It is based upon tradition and common law and has provided justice to individuals and businesses alike.”
“I recognize that several other states have imposed such rules. It’s understandable. The pressure to do so is very strong. That does not make it right or sound policy.” …
“No system ever devised by man is or can ever be perfect. But our civil justice system has served us well, and any substantial changes to it should be made only if the change is needed, fair and beneficial to all …”
Finally, a republican view of the tort reform debate that get it!
- Thompson out to help trial lawyers (knoxnews.com)
- Thompson and torts (politics.nashvillepost.com)
- Tort Reform Means You Pay For Others’ Errors (my.firedoglake.com)