"Litigation is one our most powerful tools for making sure that [insert entity here] follow the law and are held accountable."
So said Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Now, Mr. Donohue was speaking with respect to "federal agencies" in the bracketed portion. Eric Turkewitz beat me to the punch when he changed just the bracketed language above:
"Litigation is one our most powerful tools for making sure that corporations follow the law and are held accountable."
Litigation is such a powerful tool for big business, that the U.S. Chamber has created a center whose only purpose is to use litigation to the Chamber’s tactical advantage. The National Chamber Litigation Center is "the public-policy law firm of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America" and "plays a major role in shaping public policy on important legal questions of national concern to American business while achieving long-range improvements in the legal system. Since its inception in 1977, the Litigation Center has participated in more than 1,500 cases as the voice of business in the courts."
So, yes. The U.S. Chamber and I agree: the right to fair and open courts is a power tool to ensure that not just "federal agencies" and not just "corporations", but everyone follows the law and are held accountable.
But wait, if litigation is such a powerful tool for corporations and big business to fight against oppression, why does the Chamber also spend so much time and so much money making sure that ordinary people can’t have their day in court? The Chamber also created and funds the Institute for Legal Reform. The ILR is dedicated to legal "reforms" that make it more difficult for ordinary people to ensure that corporations follow the law and are held accountable.
When the U.S. Chamber wants to fight against regulation and environmental protections, litigation is one of its "most powerful tools". But, when ordinary people want to make sure that corporations follow the law, that same powerful must be crushed to fight an imaginary litigation explosion and to make ensure "fairness" for corporations.
The Chamber of Commerce is, it appears, utterly shameless in its hypocrisy.
I continue to ask why anyone would advocate to reduce or eliminate this "powerful" and fundamental constitutional right?
Article III, Section 2: Trial by Jury, Original Jurisdiction, Jury Trials
7th Amendment: Trial by Jury in Civil Cases
"In Suits at common law…, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved…."
It seems the Chamber is trying to mislead ordinary people into giving up the crucial and powerful tool that civil litigation provides. Civil litigation is often the only means that a wronged person has to fight against a company worth billions of dollars. Civil litigation is designed to ensure that you and I have the same rights and same protections as giant multi-national corporations.
Our right to trial and access to courts is not being "taken" away so much as it is being "given" away. Given away by those who have been misled by the Chamber’s rhetoric and frightened by the Chamber’s tactics. Don’t be frightened or tricked into giving away your constitutional rights. Stand up for your rights. Protect yourself and your family.
(c) Copyright 2010 Brett A. Emison
Brett Emison is currently a partner at Langdon & Emison, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims across the country from their primary office near Kansas City. Mainly focusing on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as complex mass tort and dangerous drug cases, Mr. Emison often deals with automotive defects, automobile crashes, railroad crossing accidents (train accidents), trucking accidents, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices.