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Brett Emison
Brett Emison
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Newt Gingrich – Big Government Tort Refomer

3 comments

Newt Gingrich is the latest GOP presidential hopeful ignoring fundamental conservative principles in favor of a corporate bailout, big government "tort reform" agenda. Gingrich joins Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Rick Santorum in the fight to abolish the fundamental protections of the 7th Amendment.

According to the National Journal, Gingrich would offer retraining to lawyers and government workers in need of finding jobs.

Gingrich said the training program for lawyers would follow successful tort reform, which has long been a goal of conservatives.

But here, the National Journal gets it wrong. Tort reform has not been the goal of real conservatives, because real conservatives know that tort reform (1) grows government by (2) bailing out bad actors and (3) eliminates fundamental constitutional protections.

Many true conservatives understand the importance of the 7th Amendment right to civil jury trial. Conservatives understand that the founding fathers inserted this amendment into the Bill of Rights for a reason. Conservatives understand that a civil jury trial is the ultimate check and balance against corporate and government intrusion. This is why leading conservative legal groups have begun to question the need for tort reform because of concerns about tort reform's encroachment on fundamental civil liberties, increasing the size and burden of government, encroachment of states' rights, and tort reform's failure to promote accountability and personal responsibility.

Andrew Cochran, Fred Thompson, Rand Paul, Clarence Thomas, and other leading conservatives have come out against tort reform.

What's the real effect of tort reform? Wrongdoers are not held accountable. Victims are penalized. And tax payers pay the bill.

When you grant amnesty to negligent corporations and other wrongdoers, the perverse effect is that the federal government bloats and taxpayers or forced to bailout the negligent conduct through government funded bailouts of negligent actors. Imagine someone is paralyzed by a defective product, a negligent doctor or a drunk driver. Tort reform either excludes the plaintiff completely from the court system or limits the recovery to only a portion of the plaintiff's actual life care needs. The bad actor is relieved of personal (or corporate responsibility) and the burdens of the bad actions are borne by taxpayers in the form of Medicare, Medicaid and disability payments.

The 7th Amendment is the ultimate lynch pin for all other constitutional rights – including religious freedom, 2nd Amendment rights, life issues, contractual rights, and others. What is your remedy if someone violates your constitutional rights to free speech, to religious freedom, to keep and bear arms, to contract, etc.? These are civil law (or civil justice) claims in which you take the bad actor to court in order to have your rights protected. What happens when access to courts is limited? What happens when access to court is so lopsided that the average person cannot gain access? What happens when powerful lobbyists control the courts like they control other branches of government?

We need politicians – including the presidential contenders – to stand up for our fundamental constitutional rights. We need them to hold wrongdoers accountable. We need them to end bailouts of negligent companies and negligent people.

[More on your 7th Amendment Rights]

(c) Copyright 2011 Brett A. Emison

Follow @BrettEmison on Twitter.

3 Comments

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  1. Mark Bello says:
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    Brett: I’ve written post after post on this issue. But, I have neither written nor read a post that puts forth the conservative case against tort reform as well as this one does. If you claim to be a real conservative (contrasted from our current crop of Republican presidential candidates) you must be opposed to tort reform, on principle, alone. That this group of hypocrites isn’t, speaks volumes about who and what they truly are. Great job!

  2. Cilla Mitchell says:
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    Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and now, Newt Gingrich, God help us all, are all sleeping with each other , or are selling their souls to the company store. I have other appropriate adjectives for them but will refrain from using them in a public format.

    Our Founding Fathers were never pro-tort reform and I believe they all would have a cardiac arrest if they were alive to see what has happened to our country.

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    Brett, as always a first-rate piece challenging conservatives to be “real.” I’m humbled that you mentioned me in the same sentence with conservative stalwarts opposed to tort reform, thank you. Add to that list Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Senator Mike Lee, and Professors Randy Barnett and Rob Natelson, to name but a few.