Most of you know Fred Thompson from his role in Law and Order or when he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination in 2008. Thompson recently wrote an article in Tennessean advocating against tort reform. Specifically, Thompson rallied against attempts by the legislature to cap damages for individuals who have suffered personal injuries. What is interesting about Thompson’s article is that he based his argument on conservative principles.
To me, conservatism shows due respect for a civil justice system that is rooted in the U.S. Constitution and is the greatest form of private regulation ever created by society. Conservatism is individual responsibility and accountability for damages caused, even unintentionally. It’s about government closest to the people and equal justice with no special rules for anybody. It’s also about respect for the common-law principle of right to trial by jury in civil cases that was incorporated into the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution.
Thompson went on to write: “Our system ‘ain’t broke.’ It is based upon tradition and common law and has provided justice to individuals and businesses alike.”
I like Thompson’s argument and its focus on our Constitution. It is strange that many people want tort reform because they believe juries are wild-eyed and eager to award millions of dollars to an individual in the civil system, but will allow juries to decide if an individual should be given the death penalty in the criminal system.
In Washington, there is no cap of general damages. However, if you go across the border to Idaho, general damages are capped at a little over $300,000. It amazing that just a few few miles from my home in Liberty Lake, Washington, an individual’s ability to receive full compensation for severe personal injuries is significantly diminished.
- Fred Thompson: Tennessee justice system ‘ain’t broke’ (knoxnews.com)
- Thompson and torts (politics.nashvillepost.com)
- Strange But True: Fred Thompson Joining Forces With Trial Lawyers (blogs.wsj.com)
- Fred Thompson turns to lobbying for trial lawyers (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Thompson out to help trial lawyers (knoxnews.com)