Saturday, July 17, 2004

The Courts and Class Warfare

Much is made of U.S.-Europe contrasts.  One difference that matters is the importance of class warfare rhetoric and the politics of envy.  These have had a much smaller role in U.S. politics.  Many Americans are too busy aspiring to even vote.  Among those who do vote, envy and redistribution are seldom majority issues.
Not so in the U.S. courts (and probably law schools).  Outsized liability claims and tort proceedings that seek transfers from "deep pockets" are class warfare in action. 
Fred L. Smith, Jr., writing in the latest Forbes, calls attention to the fact that, "Activists want companies to list potential environmental liabilities on balance sheets.  This is full disclosure gone berserk.  ... I can envision, for instance, an oil company like Royal Dutch/Shell, as supplier of fuels that supposedly contribute to global warming, would have to report potential environmental liabilities ..."
Striking a blow for "the environment" and against "corporate America" has a better chance in our courts than at the ballot box.  Reason #995 to think seriously about tort reform.  Especially now, with a skilled tort lawyer on the November ballot .