D.C. Examiner: The New Congress and Strange Priorities

From The D.C. Examiner, “Beholden Congress crafts a trial lawyer boondoggle“:

It didn’t take long for the heavily Democratic 111th Congress to begin approving legislative pay-offs to special interests. First in line were class-action trial lawyers who paid for big portions of the majority’s 2008 campaign costs. The House on Friday passed two measures that, unless they are killed or delayed by a filibuster, will hurt seriously businesses, consumers, and workers alike. The bills will also inflict serious damage on an already reeling economy.

The offending measures are the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act” and the “Paycheck Fairness Act.” The first would effectively remove almost all statutes of limitations on claims of wage discrimination, meaning that claims could be filed decades after alleged offenses. The second would remove all limits on both compensatory and punitive damage awards under the Equal Pay Act, enabling trial lawyers to shake down businesses for awards many times as expensive as the wages in dispute. Quite simply, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues are blatantly encouraging their trial lawyer buddies to sue any business any time for any amount.

Both bills would burden employers with greatly increased record-keeping expenses and near-prohibitive insurance costs that eventually would be passed on to consumers. But the trial lawyers would reap a rich new bonanza in legal fees, much of which would return to Pelosi and company as campaign contributions. That’s called “pay to play” in Chicago. No wonder U.S. Rep. Howard McKeon, R-CA, calls this legislative duo a “trial lawyer boondoggle.”

The editorial also cites this excellent analysis by Andrew Grossman of the Heritage Foundation, “The Ledbetter Act: Sacrificing Justice for “Fair” Pay.” The Ledbetter bill represents a fundamental attack on the legal principle of statutes of limitations, Grossman writes, correctly.

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