Here at ThePopTort, we do battle everyday with the some of the most dangerous forces in the world. It’s exciting stuff! And we’ve been thinking, with our national Hunger Games obsession and the Summer Olympics right around the corner, sports (or “sport” as some would put it) are clearly on the brain. So why not spread our excitement. In fact, we’d like to propose a new “sport,” which we’ll call “Gutting Legal Rights.” Here’s what we can tell you about it, so far.
We’ll begin by thanking Common Cause and its IRS complaint against the American Legislative Exchange Council (which we covered here). We now have access to various member directories of ALEC’s Civil Justice Task Force, and agendas for its meetings back to 2010. So with that as our guide, let’s see how this new sport might work. (Some kind of “atholon” perhaps.)
Our first task has an exciting goal: to make sure the legal community – you know, the folks who actually know something about the law and what judges do - have less and less say about which judges get appointed to the bench. So the first task is to see how quickly a state can enact the U.S. Chamber of Commerce model to establish state commissions that tell Governors what judges to appoint, requiring that two-thirds of its members be non-lawyers – and then to pack it with your own business representatives. I’m sure competition will be stiff for those juicy slots!
Our second task is to see just how difficult we can make it for judges to interpret their own state laws, (which they seem to think is their fundamental job). In particular, if a judge interprets a law to allow for a private right of action against a wrongdoer, the task is to figure out as many ways possible to hamstring this judge. (For bondage ideas, read the new bestseller, Fifty Shades of Grey. And if they still won’t behave, the first contestant to call in the federal marshals wins!)
Now for a really big task – consolidate every model bill that harms victims of product defects, making it nearly impossible for them to sue reckless manufacturers, including drug companies that cause injuries or deaths. For this task, participants will have to confuse lawmakers with pages and pages of legislative language, figure out what each provision actually means for everyday Americans and then make sure the final model bill screws them over in every possible way. It’s a tedious task but the payoff will be euphoric, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Now, in terms of our athletes, let’s see who has already made it into the ALEC Civil Justice Directory. We'll take a look at one of them, Summer of 2011, for example. Here we find the competition’s already started between the insurance industry and pharmaceutical companies. Farmers, State Farm, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, American Insurance Association and Property Casualty Insurers Association vs. GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Bayer, Merck and PhRMA. Wow, some match up. I’m not sure which giant industry dominates that contest!
But the packaging industry (Georgia-Pacific, Crown Cork & Seal) is making a strong showing so don’t count them out. And we can’t forget the energy and oil industry (ExxonMobil, Shell, Entergy, Honeywell), the railroads (BNSF) and that old standby, Koch! Wait, here’s the tobacco industry making an appearance again with their entry – Altria. Now that’s exciting! And coming up the rear is a newcomer in the civil justice wars – Taser International We don’t know for sure, but perhaps their involvement has something to do with some unfortunate fallout from various “don’t tase me bro”-type incidents. No doubt they’re looking for some protection – the legal kind, that is.
Now we’ve also got some great sponsoring members for these wonderful athletes: the American Tort Reform Association, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, Lawyers for Civil Justice (representing the corporate lawyers), the Federalist Society, the National Federation of Business (NFIB) and the Pacific Research Institute.
I can’t imagine this won’t work.