Category Archives: Law

Yeah, I’m Breathing . . . So Sue Me!

A Wall Street Journal editorial describes a new legal tactic being used by greenies to bypass the legislative roadblocks to moving their environmental agenda forward: sue the CO2 polluters for contributing to global warming.

Of course, this strategy opens up a whole new can of worms, since every human on the planet produces CO2 simply by breathing.

In other words, the courts would become a venue for a carbon war of all against all. Not only might businesses sue to shackle their competitors—could we sue the New York Times for deforestation?—but judges would decide the remedies against specific defendants. In practice this would mean ad hoc command-and-control regulation against any industries that happen to catch the green lobby’s eye.

Congress Tramples the Constitution

This week Congress responded to public anger over the AIG bonuses by passing a law imposing a 90 percent tax explicitly on the AIG execs. But as an editorial at Investors Business Daily notes, such a a law violates the bill of attainder prohibition in the Constitution (Article I, Section 9).  This shocking disregard for plain constitutional limits bodes ill for the republic.

You don’t have to like or agree with the AIG bonuses to understand that Congress is doing something it shouldn’t under the Constitution. Once a precedent is set, Congress will be able to go after anyone or any group, at any time, for any reason.

Free Speech in Canada

If you haven’t been following the Mark Steyn case in recent weeks, be sure to read Jacob Laksin’s piece on Frontpagemag.com. Steyn wrote the blockbuster book, America Alone, a couple of years ago, exposing the decline of Europe under the onslaught of Muslim immigration. An excerpt from the book was published in Canada’s Maclean’s Magazine. A group of Muslims was offended by the material in the article, so they filed suit in one of Canada’s infamous “Human Rights” Tribunals.

The proceedings have been such a mockery of justice that Steyn actually prefers to lose this case, in order to gain a greater victory later.

We want to lose so we can take it to a real court and if necessary up to the Supreme Court of Canada and we can get the ancient liberties of free-born Canadian citizens that have been taken away from them by tribunals like this.

Planet of the Apes — or Idiots

This does not elevate apes — it denigrates humans.

The European Court of Human Rights has agreed to a preliminary hearing to determine whether chimpanzees are entitled to the legal status and protections granted to human beings.

Wanna hear the really scary part?

A win for the group could have sweeping ramifications for the entire European Union, with legal precedent existing for apes — and possibly other animals — to receive the rights, protections, and even medical, financial, and social benefits of human beings.

And you thought entitlement programs were out of control now. . . .

Tort Reform and Health Care

Joseph Nixon details the impact of recent tort reform legislation in Texas on the quality of health care in that state — not to mention the large number of doctors wanting to move into the state.

The result is an influx of doctors so great that recently the State Board of Medical Examiners couldn’t process all the new medical-license applications quickly enough. The board faced a backlog of 3,000 applications. To handle the extra workload, the legislature rushed through an emergency appropriation last year.

Now many of the newly arriving doctors are heading to rural or underserved parts of the state. Four new anesthesiologists have headed to Beaumont, for example. Meanwhile, San Antonio has experienced a 52% growth in the number of new doctors. . . .

This has allowed doctors and hospitals to cut costs and even increase the resources devoted to charity care. Take Christus Health, a nonprofit Catholic health system across the state. Thanks to tort reform, over the past four years Christus saved $100 million that it otherwise would have spent fending off bogus lawsuits or paying higher insurance premiums. Every dollar saved was reinvested in helping poor patients. . . . .

The full costs of large settlements and runaway malpractice suits may never be known. But it is clear that the costs were paid for by consumers through the increased price of goods, by pensioners through diminished stock prices, and by workers through lost jobs. Another group often overlooked is those who are priced out of health care, or who didn’t receive charity care because doctors were squeezed by tort lawyers. Frivolous lawsuits hit the uninsured the hardest.

This is making everyone happy — except the trial lawyers, of course.

Gender Discrimination in Higher Education

Christina Hoff Summers warns of a coming federal crackdown on gender discrimination in math and sciences in higher education. If Title IX is applied to these departments the same way it has been applied to college athletics, “equality” will be achieved by decimating the ranks of men who can apply for those positions. The long-term effect will be devastating to our national interest.

The continued excellence of American science and technology is vital to our security and prosperity — and depends on an exacting meritocracy and, at the top, an intensity of vocational devotion that few men or women can achieve.

Of course, as Glenn Reynolds notes, why should the feds stop there? Have you noticed the glaring gender discrimination that exists among elementary school teachers?

Return to Feudalism

An article by Heather Whipps on the impact of the Magna Carta on English law prompts reflection on the current political scene.

For those who may not be familiar with this document, Whipps provides a brief history:

Feudalism was the framework by which all landowning was governed in England during medieval times. It essentially granted the king control of all the land in his kingdom, which was worked by peasants and overseen by feudal barons. Everyone in the hierarchy had financial and social responsibilities to the rank above them, including the barons, who reported directly to the king.

Most of England’s kings didn’t exercise all of their feudal rights, such as the power to control who their tenants married. That wasn’t the case, however, with King John, the ruler fictionalized as the bad guy in “Robin Hood.” John’s abuses of the feudal system were frequent and angered the barons, who were regularly extorted of their lands and profits.

Fed up, in 1215 the barons rebelled and pressured the king into signing the Magna Carta, a list of 63 clauses drawn up to limit John’s power. It was the first time royal authority officially became subject to the law, instead of reigning above it.

Whipps goes on to describe the influence of this groundbreaking document on later English law, and eventually the U. S. Constitution.

The key point to notice here is the principle that, as described in the American Declaration of Independence, men are created with “certain inalienable rights,” rights that derive from their free moral nature as human beings, not from the arbitrary whims of kings. We have these rights, not because a benevolent government grants them to us, but because of what we are. The recognition of these transcendent rights has been enshrined in English and American law for centuries, and has played a key role in our history as a free and prosperous people.

Today, however, Americans — largely ignorant of this history — are slowly surrendering their rights back to their rulers. More and more we are turning to the government to fix our problems and right our wrongs. We are quite happy to let the government punish others, if it gives us some sense of “justice,” not realizing that some day that same power will be used against us, for much the same reason. We are returning to the medieval order of things, where human rights are gifts of the king, to be dispensed as his royal highness deems fit.

At some point, we may, like the barons of 1215, get fed up and confront our government with another Magna Carta, demanding that it respect the human rights it has so willingly taken over.