DMI Blog

Kia Franklin

Election ‘08—Will the Candidates Care about Civil Justice?

Cross-posted from TortDeform.Com:

I haven't blogged much about the 2008 Presidential Elections, and not just because I've grown tired of the topdog/underdog, back-and-forth of the primaries. You see, usually I write about why our civil court system is an important forum that allows everyday people to advocate for their rights and take on corporate, governmental, and other abusers. But honestly, the candidates just have not been giving me much to work with.

A brief scan of the headlines confirms it: for regular Americans whose legal rights are being compromised--not for big corporations, or for important politicians, or for super-rich celebrity types, but for regular Americans--justice is often just beyond reach. And this in a country that believes in "justice for all."

Maybe progressives need to be more demanding about asking the candidates how they plan to help preserve our legal rights against this growing momentum toward prioritizing corporate special interests over the interests of the voting, taxpaying public.

So, in the spirit of being proactive and sparking dialogue about how the next President can improve our civil justice system, I am pleased to announce DMI's new report: Election '08: A Pro Civil Justice Presidential Platform. The report outlines six key challenges and policy solutions that, if implemented, would drastically improve Americans' access to justice. (The report is available in PDF or you can browse the report on TortDeform.) Specifically, it suggests that the next President can:

o ensure that those who need it get access to representation,
o strengthen people’s constitutional right to a day in court by declaring binding mandatory arbitration unconstitutional in contracts between people and big corporations
o defend states' rights to protect their citizens against corporate abuse with protective laws, without federal law preempting them ,
o preserve the public’s right to know information about corporate behavior that could impact their health and safety,
o prioritize Americans’ rights as patients to safe care and honest information about their treatment, and
o protect consumers against insurance fraud by regulating the insurance industry.

From the report:

Imagine how average Americans’ lives would be changed if the next President dedicated his or her work to strengthening the civil justice system in order to empower and protect American citizens. The civil courts would not just be a forum for large corporate powers to battle each other, but for the individuals for whom it was designed. Average people could uphold their rights as consumers, employees, and citizens to be free from harmful products and foods, safe from medical negligence, protected from insurance fraud and corporate abuse. And if they could not afford a lawyer, but had basic rights and interests at stake, they could obtain adequate legal counsel to help them navigate the system. In short, a pro-Civil Justice President would make justice possible for all Americans.

Call it "audacious hope," call it wisdom from experience, call it the populist in me, but I'm pretty convinced that with effective leadership and a straightforward commitment to some simple, clear policies, the next President can help make the civil justice system work better for real people. Let's ask them if they're committed to making that happen.

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 2:13 PM, Jan 10, 2008 in Civil Justice | Drum Major Institute | Progressive Agenda
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