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Protecting the Civil Justice System Should be a Conservative Priority

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I wanted to share with our readers what I consider a very persuasive argument by a Republican as to why protecting the 7th Amendment should be a Republican and Tea Party Priority.

The 7th Amendment Advocate is a website dedicated to “educate the public and policymakers on the centuries-long history of the right enunciated in the 7th Amendment to a jury trial for civil suits, the accelerating erosion of our 7th Amendment rights, and current issues illustrating the problem and need for restoration of the Founders’ original intent.”

According to The 7th Amendment Advocate its founder, Andrew Cochran:

is a business consulting and government affairs specialist in Washington, DC. Mr. Cochran advocates plaintiffs’ and victims’ positions on proposed legislation and regulations before the Congress and the Executive Branch. Mr. Cochran is a lifetime conservative and Republican; served as a political appointee of the Reagan Administration from 1983 until 1988; was a Republican counsel on Capitol Hill; and was nominated by President George W. Bush for a Presidential appointment.

Mr. Cochran recently authored a blog entitled Seven Reasons Why Protecting 7th Amendment Should Be Republican & Tea Party Priority. In this blog he gives his readers seven simple summary reasons why Republicans and those adhering to the Tea Party beliefs should back an unhindered right to a jury trial for civil lawsuits. In my conservative opinion, Mr. Cochran’s summation provides logic over special interest money as to why Conservatives should be imploring their elected officials to not enact so called “tort reform." The following is his seven reasons:

1. CIVIL SUITS CAN KILL OBAMACARE: The Republicans and Tea Partiers are rightly cheering on those state Attorneys General who have sued in federal court to declare ObamaCare unconstitutional. But it’s rather disingenuous to trash trial lawyers and then turn around and enthusiastically back the anti-ObamaCare lawsuits filed by a state’s top official trial lawyer. At least it guarantees that we won’t hear anyone of either party refer to the state AG suits as "junk lawsuits" and trash the AGs as "power-greedy trial lawyers."

2. CIVIL SUITS PROTECT THE UNBORN & WOMENS’ HEALTH: As I posted on August 28, trial lawyers have assisted the pro-life and womens’ health causes for decades, by pursuing dangerous abortifacients, and unsafe drugs, and defective medical devices, all approved by a FDA asleep at the switch. And civil suits will be the last line of defense for champions of the unborn against the next wave of abortifacient techonology.

3. CIVIL SUITS PROTECT RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, GUN RIGHTS & PROPERTY OWNERS: As I posted on July 22, "the 7th Amendment is the "sword and shield" enabling us to defend our religious liberty against government interference and intolerant institutions, e.g., pompous and overbearing university administrators. The Alliance Defense Fund successfully reversed attempts at university firings in the Howell and Sheldon cases by first suing the respective universities, and ADF prevents many other illegal actions just by threatening a suit. I don’t see anyone cracking on them as "sharks" and decrying their filings as "junk lawsuits." And of course, it took two civil lawsuits, filed by Americans exercising their 7th Amendment rights, to finally ensure that the correct, Constitutionally conservative view of the Second Amendment is the law of the land. Meanwhile, local governments try to use eminent domain often to take over private property – what would happen if their actions were impervious to legal challenge?

4. CIVIL SUITS PUNISH TERRORIST FINANCIERS: As I posted on June 28, the 7th Amendment has been an important tool for the pursuit of terrorist financing, and civil lawsuits have resulted in some important judgments. The family of David Boim, an American killed by Hamas terrorists in Israel, successfully won a $156 million judgment against the Dallas-based Holy Land Foundation for its role as the biggest Hamas fundraiser in the U.S. And terrorism victims’ attorneys from the Motley Rice law firm (one of my consulting clients), who are pursuing the Arab Bank in a civil suit for its alleged role as a conduit for terrorist funds, were able to access information gathered by Israeli intelligence for presentation when the case comes before a jury, hopefully soon. A former official of the NSC under Presidents Clinton and Bush testifed to Congress that, "civil litigation can substantially enhance the financial consequences that such entities face" (referring specifically to terrorist financiers).

5. THE 7TH AMENDMENT REPRESENTS A MAJOR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW AND ISLAMIC SHARIAH LAW: As I posted on August 30, there are never any juries under Islamic shariah law for any case, civil or criminal – 800 years of American constitutional and Western jurisprudence go down the tubes, and a local imam picks the winner. The results are not just primitive, but barbarous, especially for women.

6. LIMITING CIVIL JUSTICE EMPOWERS JUDGES, BUREAUCRATS & "RULING CLASS," AND DEGRADES LOCAL CONTROL: We already see a chasm between the ruling class and the rest of the country along numerous political and social fault lines. Federally imposed limits on the civil justice process, such as the preemption of state statutory and common law for certain claims or restrictions in federal civil pleading standards, only cede more power to the judiciary and federal bureaucrats. Putting complete control over certain products or services (e.g., implantable medical devices or financial services) in the hands of federal bureaucrats (the FDA or Treasury, respectively), with total immunity for the companies involved, is simply not the system of justice that the Founding Fathers intended to build. To reiterate what another conservative said, "The tort system promotes local control. Through the jury system, people at the local level decide what is reasonable behavior within their own communities. Ordinary citizens, applying a common sense standard of reasonable care, making decisions about acceptable and unacceptable conduct within their community – that is the essence of local government. And, as a result of those decisions, suppliers of goods and services within the marketplace will often modify their own behaviors… without the necessity of yet another costly and intrusive governmental bureaucracy…"

7. MOST IMPORTANTLY: BECAUSE THE FOUNDING FATHERS SAID IT’S A PRIORITY FOR ALL AMERICANS: There is no question that the Founding Fathers – from Jefferson and Madison and Hamilton, to John Adams, to George Mason, all explicitly said that citizens have the right to have their claims against their neighbors heard by a jury of their peers. It’s mentioned in the Declaration of Indepedence and was protected in the first Virginia Declaration of Rights.

Promoting the 7th Amendment is the "right" thing to do to avoid being a political hypocrite of the type that Tea Partiers want to remove from power. Republicans and Tea Partiers uphold the 1st Amendment in the face of a biased and inaccurate media elite, and we defend the 2d Amendment in the face of serial shooters. We should protect and promote the 7th Amendment at all times as we do all other Amendments in the Bill of Rights.

I wanted to add one more thing. In addition to Mr. Cochran’s seven reasons, I have to ask my readers, do you really trust elected officials, regardless of party, to interject themselves into civil trials?. Do you trust Nancy Pelosi and/or John Boehner or even your state elected officials to serve as quasi jurors in cases that they know nothing about? By enacting “tort reform” and draconian laws such as damage caps you are doing just that. You are giving your elected politician the power to substitute his or her beliefs of the value of a civil trial without knowing a single fact. That my friends is called government interference and there is nothing conservative about it.