Governor Rick Perry took the gloves off in the CNN-Tea Party Express debate, declaring war on the 7th and 10th Amendments by calling for "federal tort reform," as follows:
"...one of the things that's really important, one of the things that the Fed Reserve chairman said was the most powerful, one of the most powerful thing that happened, was tort reform that we passed in that state. You want to talk about some powerful job creation, tell the trial lawyers to get out of your state and to quit costing businessmen and women. That's what needs to happen in the states. and it's also what needs to happen at the federal level, passing federal tort reform at those federal levels."
So never mind that SEVEN conservative experts on constitutional law, including the leading anti-ObamaCare professor in America and two noted ANTI-civil litigation experts, have written that federal tort reform is an unconstitutional abridgement of states' rights. Never mind that the long list of REPUBLICANS who agree with that assessment include former Texas judge and current Congressman Ted Poe; Rep. Ron Paul; Sen. Tom Coburn; Tea Party favorite Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia; and veteran Rep. John Duncan of Tennessee. Never mind that the co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, Mark Meckler of Texas, also says that tort law is a province of the states. Forget about the long letter by the bi-partisan National Conference of State Legislators, co-signed by a Texas state representive, that warned Congress against enacting federal tort reform because it violates states' rights.
Has Rick Perry or his vaunted team ever read what the Founding Fathers actually wrote about the right to a jury trial for civil suits? What about James Madison's famous admonition that the 7th Amendment right is "as essential in securing the liberty of the people as any of the pre-eminent rights of nature," and Thomas Jefferson's clear principle that trial by jury in all cases is "the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution." Doesn't he realize that
the protection of any of our inalienable rights depends, in large measure, on the right to unfettered access to state and local courts?
Conservatives like Rick Perry who think that "tort reform" can be limited to just medical malpractice cases are dreaming. When any of our rights are compromised, ALL of our rights are limited, including the rights to freely exercise our religion, bear arms, express our opinions without fear of being muzzled, and enjoy the benefits of our private property and labor freely offered.
No, Perry didn't care about constitutional principles at all. He felt the heat of all the criticism he was taking from the other candidates and grasped for the big applause line - "kill all the lawyers." He shot his mouth off in the heat of battle. Sound like a real President to you? What will he say when he's up against a real tough guy, like Ahmadinijad? If he's ignorant on some of the basic writings of our Founding Fathers, distrustful of local juries, and willing to throw the Constitution overboard for an applause line, how are we supposed to trust him with our lives and fortunes?
Ideas have consequences. I'll discuss the real-world consequences of Rick Perry's federal tort reform for victims in my next post. For starters, the consequences are that Rick Perry breaks his promises; that he's a phony "states' righter;" he's flip-flopped on the use of federal power and the Constitution as they apply to abortion, marriage, and the civil jury process; he's not a real "Tea Party" leader or representative; and he's a classic "crony capitalist." What else is there?