But you probably think “Hey, this is America. We have a great Constitution. We have lots of rights. They’re all spelled out, right there, and no one can touch them!”
These days, you assuredly know about the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment (guns). Maybe even the “free press, free speech” 1st Amendment.
But how about the 7th Amendment – the one guaranteeing your right to go to court when you’ve been harmed? Probably not so much, which is too bad. Because while no one is paying attention to the 7th Amendment, the Trump Administration – guided by huge corporations that don’t want to be held accountable when they do something wrong – has been quietly shredding it.
For evidence of this, check out the Center for Justice & Democracy’s new “Trump Civil Justice Scorecard.” Here are a few highlights:
- Trump tool away the legal rights of many sexual harassment, sexual assault and discrimination survivors, preventing them from suing federal contractors in court and forcing survivors into secretive, rigged arbitration systems to get justice.
- Trump signed into law repeal of a public protection rule that had allowed defrauded consumers to join with others to bring class action lawsuits against banks over financial products and services.
- Trump’s U.S. Department of Agriculture made it more difficult for independent farmers, such as poultry growers, to file lawsuits against big agricultural companies over unfair, deceptive and retaliatory practices.
- Trump’s U.S. Department of Labor allowed negligent financial services advisors and companies to force retirement investors into secret, rigged arbitration systems to resolve disputes while preventing them from joining other ripped-off investors in class action lawsuits.
- Trump’s U.S. Department of Education moved to prevent students defrauded by for-profit colleges, like Trump University, from suing in court or joining with other defrauded students in class action lawsuits.
- Trump’s U.S. Department of Labor made it more difficult for workers to hold big companies as well as their franchisees or subcontractors liable for wage and hour infractions.
- Trump’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services moved to strip legal rights from abused and neglected nursing home patients, forcing them into secret, rigged arbitration systems controlled by the negligent nursing home.
And it’s not just what he’s done. It’s also what he’s said. For example, in his first State of the Union address, Trump called for laws that strip injured patients of their legal rights and restrict the power and authority of local courts to compensate victims in medical malpractice cases. Fast forward a year, and he included all of those recommendations in his 2019 budget proposal.
Lately, members of this Administration have been talking about destroying policy, which has long guaranteed the right of cheated investors who have been misled or deceived, to go to court.
If a bank’s cheated you, your employer has sexually harassed you, a financial advisor has deceived you, a for-profit college has defrauded you, or a nursing home has abused or neglected you or a beloved relative, you probably believe that all legal options should be available to you. You might not want to go to court against crooked companies – but you might want to. Or need to.
If you thought you still had those rights, you’d be wrong. Perhaps the biggest civil justice hypocrite of all time has taken those rights away from you.
Time to start paying attention.