tobacco master settlement agreement Archives - Shopfloor

Circumnetting Civil Justice Reform and Other Legal Things

By | Briefly Legal, General, Health Care | One Comment

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution holds a hearing this Friday on the major piece of civil justice reform legislation this Congress, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, which will amend the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to discourage the filing of frivolous lawsuits. We have more on the legislation at Point of Law.

Bill McCollum, the former attorney general of Florida, argues in The Wall Street Journal for more transparency when state attorneys general hire outside legal counsel on contingency to sue people (mostly businesses) on behalf of the state. From “States and Lawyers’ Fees: Transparency Needed“:

Since the 2007 financial crisis, state attorneys general have stepped up consumer-protection enforcement and are well on their way to displacing federal authorities as the nation’s chief consumer-protection watchdogs.

As the former attorney general of Florida, I understand both the power and potential pitfalls of the job. This increased role and the increased visibility that comes with it mean that attorneys general must (and should) work that much harder to maintain public confidence in the integrity of their office.

The Supreme Court this week denied to hear the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s challenge to the 1998 tobacco settlement based on Congress’ failure to approve the deal as required by the Constitution’s compact clause. From CEI’s news release, “Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case Challenging Tobacco Settlement“:

“We regret the court’s decision not to take up a case of major constitutional and policy importance,” said Sam Kazman, CEI General Counsel. “The tobacco settlement imposed a massive national sales tax on cigarettes, without a single elected legislator at any level of government voting for it. This was a major power grab by state attorneys general at the expense of both citizens and our structure of government.”

Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) is lobbying for the Tennessee Justice Association against Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislative tort reform proposals. In the cover story for the Tennessee publication, CityView Magazine, he explains his reasoning and argues against damage caps in medical malpractice suits. We appreciated his comments about the misuse of the word “reform”:

I don’t know that there is a rush for tort reform but tort reform has kind of taken on an air of its own and you’re either for it or against it. There is no such thing as finance reform, there is no such thing as health care reform, there is no such thing as tort reform; it is only what is in the bill. It may be reform or it may just be change and not really reform. So everybody thinks all Republicans ought be for tort reform, and that if you’re not a Republican, than you should be against tort reform. I think both of those are fallacious. We ought to look at what’s being proposed.

And two interviews well worth reading

Historical Resonances, 1932 to 2008

By | Economy | No Comments

Just judging from the thumbnail, it appeared the cover of the latest Time might have omitted the cigarette and cigarette holder from the FDR-Obama homage, reminding one of the airbrushing that went on with the Postal Service and stamps devoted to James Dean and Bette Davis.

But in fact, the magazine did include the jaunty cigarette prop in its Obama cover (always use the term “jaunty”), making the allusion smarter and, well, pretty good. (And causing us to pull down an earlier, erroneous Shopfloor.org post that was maybe up for 30 seconds or so.)

Still, after seeing the cover and listening to some of the “60 Minutes” interview from last night, we wonder whether there’s just too, too much straining to compare our current economic straits to the Great Depression of, oh, 1932, right before FDR took office.

In 1932, unemployment topped 23 percent, international trade had fallen by two-thirds since 1929, industrial stocks had lost 80 percent of their value, and 10,000 banks had closed.

It almost seems that some among the comfortable, affluent, protected-by-America members of the journalistic and political classes yearn for a Great Depression II as their moment of historical consequence. For all the very serious financial difficulties faced today, they pale to the turmoil and personal suffering of ’32.

(Hat tip: Jonah Goldberg, NRO.)