The 2012 presidential election has taken up most federal policymaking attention in recent weeks. Few significant legislative efforts are scheduled to advance in the coming months, as both sides take a temporary break as they wait to see who will occupy the Oval Office for the next four years. However, our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers appreciate that the current lull does not mean that fears about dangerous “tort reform” legislation are over. Those working to take away the legal rights of all medical patients will undoubtedly continue their efforts soon. The November election will very much play a role in determining whether or not this legislation advances further in the coming months and years.
Fortunately, as more information about these federal bills spreads, including H.R. 5–the comprehensive federal tort reform measure–more and more advocates on all sides are warning of the wrongheaded nature of the policy.
For example, The Legal Examiner reported this week on statements from Judson Phillips, the founder of “Tea Party Nation,” where he admitted that federal tort reform ideas are nothing but a dangerous expansion of federal power at the expense of states’ rights. Arguments about the proper scope of federal power notwithstanding, it is crucial to hold all so-called conservatives to consistency on their federalism claims. That includes pointing out the blatant hypocrisy of Republicans who claim to support states’ rights but then support widespread federal legal medical malpractice “reforms” like those implicated by H.R. 5.
Each Illinois medical malpractice attorney at our firm appreciates that now is perhaps the best best time to discuss these issues, after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its high-profile and downright surprising approval of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Many politicians and other interest group representatives are criticizing the decision because of claims that the law represents a constitutional overreach. Even the high court majority decision rejected the idea that the federal government has the power to pass the law (which mandates insurance or the issuance of a fine) because of the Commerce Clause. Instead, the court found that the law is constitutional only because of the federal government’s taxation power.
Those decrying the Affordable Care Act must be called out if they simultaneously support bills like H.R. 5 which represent the exact same degree of federal government power. In most cases those pushing H.R. 5 claim that it represents a valid use of federal government power because of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. However, anyone reading the Commerce Clause in such as way as to support federal intrusion on state court rules would undoubtedly also agree that the President’ s health care bill is similarly allowed.
Of course, virtually all medical malpractice lawyers understand that tort reform measures are unnecessary and unfair regardless of the constitutional questions. But, even if a politician believes tort reform has merit, they must stand by their principles when it comes to the scope of federal government power. We urge all local residents to understand where their congressional candidates stand on these issues and factor that position into voting decision in November.
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