The First Presidential Debate and Legal Reform

By September 21, 2008Briefly Legal, Economy

The first presidential debate takes place Friday in Oxford, Mississippi.

Oxford…Oxford…Oxford…Now whom is it we associate, lately, with Oxford, Mississippi?

Right. It’s the home of Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, the giant among trial lawyers. Or at least it was until July.

What a perfect venue to debate the merits of tort reform and the economic damages caused by the plaintiff’s bar, kicked off with a discussion of the criminal excesses of Milberg Weiss, Bill Lerach, and Dickie Scruggs. Oxford would be a great setting to detail the differences between the presidential candidates on the causes and cures for the nation’s tort burden, one that costs a family of four nearly $9,000 a year. (From the Pacific Research Institute’s “Jackpot Justice” study.) 

The “Mississippi Miracle,” i.e., reforms of the state’s once egregious legal climate, would also be a fruitful  area to explore.

Unfortunately, the emphasis of this first debate between Senator McCain and Senator Obama is foreign policy, and it would abuse the format to argue the predations of the trial bar. It’s not completely off topic: U.S. attorneys looking for a big payday have supported an anti-American government in Equador and damaged  U.S.-Equador relations through abusive litigation against Chevron, and U.S. foreign policy has been undermined by suits against U.S. companies that did legitimate business in apartheid-era South Africa. But with Iraq and Afghanistan and trade and Russia’s international aggressiveness all making headlines, it’s unlikely moderators will ask questions drawing from the crimes of Oxford’s Dickie Scruggs.

However, domestic policy is on the table during the October 15th debate at Hofstra. The public should demand that candidates address tort reform as one of the evening’s issues.

 

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Brett says:

    As an Ole Miss alum, please don’t hold Scruggs against Oxford or the university. As you did mention though, Mississippi has made enormous strides in reversing what was once known as ‘jackpot justice.’ Except for our activists AG- Jim Hood (who is best buddies with Scruggs, Langston, Baludcci and the rest of them criminals)- things are looking pretty good.

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