Thursday, June 21, 2007

High court has been good for business

Los Angeles Times: By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration and corporate lobbyists long have sought sweeping 'tort reform' to limit lawsuits and massive jury awards — without much success. But in the last year, they quietly have been winning much of what they've wanted on a case-by-case basis in the Supreme Court.

With a week to go in their term, the justices have handed down a dozen rulings that sharply limit the damages that can be won in lawsuits or make it harder to sue corporations.

'The Roberts court is even better for business' than the court led for two decades by the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, said Washington attorney Maureen E. Mahoney, who is a longtime friend of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and a former clerk for Rehnquist. 'There is unquestionably a greater number of business cases before the court, and [the justices] are quite willing to limit damage remedies.'...

None of these pro-business decisions came as a huge surprise. But lawyers who practice regularly before the high court say it is noteworthy that business has been winning so consistently.

It is "a very business-friendly court," said Beth S. Brinkmann, a Washington lawyer who served in the Clinton administration. The justices have made it harder to sue business on many fronts, she said. ...

"This court subscribes to the Chicago school of law and economics," she said, referring to the free-market theories associated with the University of Chicago that cast a skeptical eye on nearly all regulation of business.

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