For the full article, see: The Obama Administration's Likely Effect on Tort Law and the Civil Justice System Generally.
[W]hat do we know about Barack Obama's views of the civil justice system? He did not say very much on the campaign trail or in the debates, but then again, with the economy crashing and two wars, the issue did not come up very much. His campaign issued a brief one-and-a-half-page fact sheet on his views, which revealed very little.
What little Obama did say suggests that he thinks of himself as different from traditional Democrats (like John Edwards) in that he has broken with the trial lawyers' lobby. For instance, in the debates and in interviews, he proudly referred to his support of the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"), which he voted for early in his Senate career, as evidence of his independence from the trial lawyers' lobby. CAFA moves class actions from state courts to federal courts, where, it is hoped, important questions like class certification will be treated more skeptically by federal judges than by state judges, who are often elected and beholden to "special interests. . . ."
Let us leave to one side the fact that many of the assumptions behind CAFA were false, and that there is no evidence that the law really has helped suppress "junk" lawsuits. The point is that, when it was proposed, the trial lawyers opposed it and Obama voted for it anyway. The problem is, so did a lot of other Democrats. In fact, by the time Obama voted for it, it was a done deal. His support was not courageous, and he took no heat for joining 71 other senators on the final vote.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Professor Tony Sebok: Do Not Look to Obama or Senate for Civil Justice Reform
Professor Tony Sebok (Cardozo Law School) does not expect that Obama or the Senate will do much to implement liberal reforms in the area of civil justice litigation. In an essay on FindLaw, Sebok makes the following observation: