In the last two election cycles the Right has targeted Trial Lawyers as the poster-child for the Democratic party. Campaigns suggested that attorneys should be hated and used rhetoric including slogans like “don’t feed the Trial Lawyers.” The push behind the campaign appeared to be two-fold; first, to undercut a group that on the whole historically has funded and supported the Democratic party and second, to vilify the profession that provides the one independent check on government and big business outside the governmental process. That is, private citizen and small business’ right to challenge abuse of authority or corporate greed and wrongdoing by filing a lawsuit.
Further evidence of this agenda followed in the national legislative push to limit the ability to bring law suits, laws capping recoveries for common citizens and restricting the right to jury trial where the playing field is leveled by everyday citizens rather than controlled by wealthy power-brokers. This attempt to close the courthouse doors achieved moderate success as most consumers did not realize at the time that the laws their representatives had passed, funded heavily by the insurance industry, drug companies and other big business, were a gift to big business. In return for brokering away their rights consumers received nothing while a culture of corruption developed and flourished.
The 2006 mid-term elections may have been the telltale sign that consumers and small business, tired of being the whipping boy for big business and government, have put their collective foot down and have had enough.
This election destroyed a popular Karl Rove myth. The truth is that trial attorneys are winning, attacks on trial attorneys are backfiring and opponents of the civil justice system are losing.
It is important to remember that the Framers of our Constitution recognized that power unchallenged is power abused, created not only a governmental system of checks and balances to assure that no one branch of government could over-ride the other branches but also the independent check of the citizens’ right to challenge government with grievances heard by a jury made up of ordinary citizens. We can only hope that we have seen the end to this attack on our Constitution by those who have campaigned for restricting the rights of our citizens, eliminating transparency in government and allowing elite, wealthy and powerful special interest to control our future.