While Congress and most Americans are focused on President Obama’s efforts to deal with the economic crisis he inherited, many large companies in Corporate America and their cadre of powerful lobbyists are focused on getting federal money and also working behind the scenes to get immunity from lawsuits and keep millions of victims of corporate wrongdoing and abuse out of the court system. These lobbyists are pushing federal preemption, mandatory and binding arbitration, class action bans, secrecy in the civil justice system, and attacks on the right to trial by jury in numerous forms.
The American people would be totally against these efforts if they just knew what all was going on. That’s why it’s so critically important to inform the public and to expose, fight and defeat these efforts. When you consider that it was a lack of regulation of the financial institutions, combined with the work of lobbyists for those institutions that took our economy to the lowest levels since the Great Depression, it is morally wrong for the bad guys to benefit from the bailouts and not have to account for their bad behavior.
The fight is really for justice, and reaching that goal is impossible if access to justice is denied. The U.S. Supreme Court had this to say about the access to justice that all Americans should enjoy:
The right to sue and defend in the courts is the alternative of force. In an organized society, it is the right conservative of all other rights, and lies at the foundation of orderly government. It is one of the highest and most essential privileges of citizenship.
Chambers v. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company, 207 U.S. 142 (1907)
I only wish this had been said in 2009 by the Justices currently on the High Court instead of over 100 years ago, but it’s as true now as it was when first written. The fight to save and preserve the civil justice system was important then and has taken on even more importance over the years. The poor and powerless have nowhere else to go – other than to the courts when they are victims – and that’s a proven fact. And it’s not just the poor – but all persons who have an interest in access to justice, regardless of who they are or their standing in their communities.
The environment, consumers’ rights, workers’ rights, accountability in governments at every level, as well as accountability in the corporate world, are all matters that depend on the courts being open, free from undue influence and totally independent. When we recite the Pledge of Allegiance, the words “freedom and justice for all” should be more than mere words. They must have real meaning for all citizens of this country.
Source: Public Justice
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