So Much for Tort Reform Questions

By October 3, 2008Briefly Legal

Gwen Ifill, who did a credible job as moderator last night, choose not to ask a question about the civil justice system, “jackpot justice” or tort reform in last night’s vice presidential debate. Despite our repeated pleas!

Well, there’s only so many minutes available, but we still would have thought it an important area of exploration given Senator Biden’s praise for himself as the No. 1 supporter of trial lawyers in the Senate.

In fact, the only time the word “lawyer” appeared in last night’s debate was in Senator Biden’s explanation of his view on his duties of advise and consent. From the CNN transcript:

BIDEN: Yes, I can. When I got to the United States Senate and went on the Judiciary Committee as a young lawyer, I was of the view and had been trained in the view that the only thing that mattered was whether or not a nominee appointed, suggested by the president had a judicial temperament, had not committed a crime of moral turpitude, and was — had been a good student.

And it didn’t take me long — it was hard to change, but it didn’t take me long, but it took about five years for me to realize that the ideology of that judge makes a big difference.

That’s why I led the fight against Judge Bork. Had he been on the court, I suspect there would be a lot of changes that I don’t like and the American people wouldn’t like, including everything from Roe v. Wade to issues relating to civil rights and civil liberties.

And so that — that — that was one of the intellectual changes that took place in my career as I got a close look at it. And that’s why I was the first chairman of the Judiciary Committee to forthrightly state that it matters what your judicial philosophy is. The American people have a right to understand it and to know it.

But I did change on that, and — and I’m glad I did.


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