Today, September 17, marks our country’s 228th anniversary of the official signing of the U.S. Constitution. “Constitution Day” is a time to recall the liberties our Constitution sought to protect, preserve and uphold. These fundamental rights are the glue that holds our nation together, yet many Americans aren’t aware that the Seventh Amendment, which guarantees our right to a trial by jury in civil cases, is currently under attack. Why?
The answer, of course, is “greed”. Those behind tort reform (a small number of billionaires fronted by the US Chamber of Commerce) have put millions of dollars into propaganda hoping to persuade the American people – those who stand to lose the most by these measures – to willingly give up their civil and constitutional rights. These “reforms” (deforms?) limit the protections our Constitution provides those who have been, through no fault of their own, seriously injured by corporate wrongdoers who, at the same time, seek to insulate corporate profits. What happens when the average seriously injured or disabled person cannot gain access to court? The burden shifts to the taxpayers and we all pay a “hidden” tax to support that person, while the big business perpetrators and their insurance companies laugh at us, all the way to the bank.
I watched parts of the Republican debate last night. I cringed when these pro-business candidates, all of whom support limits on tort damages, claimed to be ‘champions of justice’. “Liberty and Justice for All” proclaimed Carly Fiorina. Marco Rubio suggested that Rosa Parks would be his choice to grace the front of the new $10 bill. John Kasich suggested Mother Teresa. Donald Trump echoed Rubio’s choice of Rosa Parks. All, in one way or another, invoked themes of justice, fairness and equality. But, what do all these people, in fact what do all of the candidates in last night’s debate, have in common besides being Republicans running for President? All of them support tort reform, injustice for injured people, corporate welfare, if you will. All of them support handouts for the 1% wealthiest citizens and corporations on the backs of the poor, the injured, and the disabled. And all have the stones to invoke the words “justice” or “fairness”? The names of Rosa Parks and/or Mother Teresa? If either of these woman were alive today (and Mother Teresa was an American citizen) would either of them have voted for the likes of these clowns? Not a chance!
As usual, all spoke in support of the 2nd Amendment. Sensible gun control is out of the question for this group. They spoke of the 1st Amendment as it relates to religion, but ignored the fundamental free speech reasons that the Amendment was necessary. They spoke of the 4th, the 5th and the 10th, but nobody stood in support for the 7th Amendment. Apparently, if you are a “constitutional Republican”, you get to pick and choose which parts of the Constitution you agree with and support. The United States Supreme Court, with its Republican majority, decided that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional. The same court decided that same sex couples deserved the same marital and benefit rights as opposite sex couples. Deciding votes were cast by Republican appointees. Yet, these candidates won’t let either issue go. All of last night’s debaters have said that they would repeal the Affordable Care Act. Mike Huckabee stood at a rally in support of a law-breaker in Kentucky and supported her defiance of the Constitution in the name of religion. The Constitution is not a document of religion; it is a document of freedom and justice. Denying groups of people the rights that others are granted is not just and those who are affected by these denials are not free.
But, this is politics as usual in the Republican Party, the party of exclusion not inclusion. This is the Party that wants to regulate what you do in your bedroom, but not in your boardroom. These are the politicians who want to regulate a woman’s choice, but would immediately cut funding for that same low income woman who, in good conscience, gave birth to the child she considered aborting. This is the Party that denies birth control to young people then denies them the right to choose when faced with the inevitable consequence of such a stupid policy and practice.
And, of course, this must be the party that supports tort reform, despite the guarantees of the 7th Amendment. These charlatans of justice should call their party the “Hypocritical” Party, not the “Republican” Party. Politics as usual is systematically infringing on a precious right that is guaranteed by our Constitution. The Seventh Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right of Americans to a civil trial by jury. However, big business and insurance companies continue their efforts to strip away those rights. These tort reform measures undermine the ability of victims to share their story with a jury and allowing the jury to return a verdict. The court system is about justice. Lawsuits and significant jury awards for those who violate safety laws are the number one safety enforcement tool in America.
Businesses that play by the rules and do things the right way should make appropriate profit. That’s why we all go into for-profit businesses. But, surely businesses can profit without the need to sacrifice the rights of seriously injured people. These sacrifices aren’t being made for profit; they are being made for mega-profit, for corporate greed. And politicians like all of last night’s debaters are providing them the means to do it. It is time to stand up for your constitutional rights and justice. Our Founding Fathers fought and died for freedom, liberty, and civil justice for all, not for just the rich and powerful. I encourage everyone to educate themselves on “tort reform” and fight back before it is too late. And, above all else, vote, in the national election, in your state and local elections. We, the People have the power to stop these bad intentioned politicians from selling out our country.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.