The Candidates’ Record on Legal Reform

By September 17, 2008Briefly Legal

The Examiner newspaper editorializes today on the tort reform records of the presidential and vice presidential candidates, asking a question of great interest to the business community: “Will either party’s presidential ticket keep a lid on the lawyers’ greed?”

The editorial uses NAM’s “Key Vote” voting records to assess Sens. Obama, McCain and Biden, taking special note of the most striking record — Biden’s. Of the 13 votes on tort reform and legal issues rated by the National Association of Manufacturers over the last four Congresses, Sen. Biden voted with the trial lawyers all 13 times. For business and the consumers, in other words, an 0-for-13 record.

And for the top of the ticket? From the editorial:

Obama’s Senate voting record is briefer but no less worrisome. The only time he voted right was on the Class Action Fairness Act, which makes it harder to move suits from state to state in search of a particularly lenient judge. That bill passed the Senate with a 72-26 bipartisan majority, so Obama’s vote made no difference. Before the final vote, however, he voted three times for “poison pill” amendments that would have eviscerated the bill’s effectiveness.

John McCain voted with the reformers nine of the 13 times cited by NAM, but occasionally sided with the trial lawyers on “patients’ rights.” His record gives evidence of a more balanced, case-by-case approach. Sarah Palin, meanwhile, comes from the state that the Pacific Research Institute ranks as having the second most favorable legal climate in the country. That’s one reason businesses like locating in Alaska — much as they will more frequently choose to come to the United States if we elect a president who understands the need to stop class-action lawsuit abuses while the rest of the world goes the other way.

You can see the NAM voting records legal reform here:

The American Enterprise Institute’s Ted Frank has also written on the subject of Sen. Obama as a tort reformer, examining his votes on the Class Action Fairness Act. From the Examiner, “How bipartisan is Obama?”


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