For the Children? Then Who Cares About the Law?

By July 7, 2008Briefly Legal

Last week amid all the postings on the Rhode Island Supreme Court’s ruling that rejected the state’s lawsuit against paint manufacturers, we noted the similarity of comments from Attorney General Patrick Lynch, former AG and now U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and the contingency fee attorneys at Motley Rice who manned the legal assault (and campaign contributions): They were all acting “for the children.”

Now we see that Attorney General Lynch last month was elected to be chairman of the National Association of Attorneys General, or NAAG. (The old joke in state political circles is that NAAG stands for National Association of Aspiring Governors.)

Anyway, in the news release announcing his election, Lynch declared his goals for the year:

“I am enlisting the assistance of my colleagues and good corporate citizens, and marshalling the resources of NAAG and other organizations, to increase protections, decrease risks, and encourage a more just and secure world for our children,” Attorney General Lynch said. “Technology has created a borders-free, global society that is advantageous in many respects. But it also exposes our children to potentially dangerous influences and information, and makes them more vulnerable to those who seek to exploit, victimize, and harm them. We will continue our work in fostering a safer social networking environment and in preventing predators and other criminals from using cyberspace as their own personal playgrounds.”

Would it be too much to ask for enforcement of the law to create a more just and secure world for everybody, adults, too?

P.S. The Providence Journal prints a letter from Darren McKinney, communications director for the American Tort Reform Association, entitled, “Lynch, Whitehouse hurt R.I. economy.” Excerpt:

Lead-paint “products poisoned our infants and children — and continue to poison our infants and children — while bringing great profits to the companies that made and sold them,” Lynch said in disagreeing with the court. Yet the defendant companies had voluntarily ended sales of such products in 1955, long before 1978 government regulations required them to. Thus a reasonable person might conclude that property owners, not the former makers of then-perfectly legal products should more fairly be asked to shoulder the burden for lead-paint abatement today.

In any case, it’s no surprise that Mr. Lynch’s activist, litigious attitude, like that of his predecessor, Sheldon Whitehouse (now a U.S. senator), has helped keep Rhode Island’s rate of real GDP growth well below the national average while the unemployment rate remains considerably higher.

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