Kia Franklin

On Civil Justice Issues, Focus on Senate, Not White House

Prof. Anthony Sebok's recent article in FindLaw explores the likely influence President-elect Obama will have on the torts system. Sebok concludes that it may be more about a Pro-Civil Justice Senate than President:

But the real question is not what Obama will want to do with the civil justice system, but what Congress will want to do with it. The Democrats now firmly control the Senate, and some of them may want to reverse the achievements of the tort reform movement. Will Obama want to stand in their way? I don't think so.

So what will the Senate Democrats try to do? I don't think that they will try to reverse any current legislation. This is because the tort reformers really did not get that much important legislation through Congress over the last eight years. Their real successes, other than CAFA, were either at the state level or through the Supreme Court. Thus, putting CAFA aside, there is not much for Congress to undo.

However, the Senate might be interested in doing a little tort reform in the other direction-that is, by changing the law to tip the playing field more in favor of plaintiffs.

Sebok goes on to outline a few ways the Senate could consider going about this. He mentions reversing the Bush administration's course on the preemption issue, as well as banning pre-dispute binding mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts between consumers and corporations. He predicts that Obama would support the Senate if it decided to go in this direction, but that Obama would not likely take the lead on these issues himself.

Given what we've learned over the past year or so about Obama's mixed stance on civil justice, this seems about right.

So---how are we gonna let the Senate know that we want real reforms that strengthen the civil justice system, not the so-called tort "reforms" that only strengthen corporate power?

Read Sebok's full article here.

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 4:05 PM, Nov 20, 2008 in Decision 2008 | Mandatory Arbitration | Preemption | Pro-Civil Justice Reforms | Right to Access the Courts
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