Seven Reasons Why Tea Partiers Should Protect 7th Amendment

The centuries-old right to a jury trials for civil suits, recognized since the Magna Carta in 1215 and enshrined in the 7th Amendment to the Constitution, has been under attack for decades and is now, I assert, the least known and most endangered of the ten Constitutional amend.... Here's a simple summary of reasons why those groups, my ideological brethren (and in the case of Republicans, "my sometime employer), should back an unhindered right to a jury trial for civil suits:

1. CIVIL SUITS CAN KILL OBAMACARE: The Republicans and Tea Partiers are rightly cheering on those state Attorneys General who have sued in federal court to dec.... But it's rather disingenous to trash trial lawyers and then turn around and enthusiatically back the anti-ObamaCare lawsuits filed by a state's top official trial lawyer. At least it guarantees that we won't hear anyone of either party refer to the state AG suits as "junk lawsuits" and trash the AGs as "power-greedy trial lawyers."

2. CIVIL SUITS PROTECT THE UNBORN & WOMENS' HEALTH: Trial lawyers have assisted the pro-life and womens' health causes ..., by pursuing dangerous abortifacients, and unsafe drugs, and defective medical devices, all approved by a FDA asleep at the switch. And civil suits will be the last line of defense for champions of the unborn against the next wave of abortifacient techonology.

3. CIVIL SUITS PROTECT RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, GUN RIGHTS & PROPERTY OWNERS: The 7th Amendment is the "sword and shield" enabling us to defend our religious liberty against government interference and..., e.g., pompous and overbearing university administrators. The Alliance Defense Fund successfully reversed attempts at university firings in the Howell and Sheldon cases by first suing the respective universities, and ADF prevents many other illegal actions just by threatening a suit. I don't see anyone cracking on them as "sharks" and decrying their filings as "junk lawsuits." And of course, it took two civil lawsuits, filed by Americans exercising their 7th Amendment rights, to finally ensure that the correct, Constitutionally conservative view of the Second Amend.... Meanwhile, local governments try to use eminent domain often to take over private property - what would happen if their actions were impervious to legal challenge?

4. CIVIL SUITS PUNISH TERRORIST FINANCIERS: The 7th Amendment has been an important tool for the pursuit of ter..., and civil lawsuits have resulted in some important judgments. The family of David Boim, an American killed by Hamas terrorists in Israel, successfully won a $156 million judgment against the Dallas-based Holy Land Foundation for its role as the biggest Hamas fundraiser in the U.S. And terrorism victims' attorneys from the Motley Rice law firm (one of my consulting clients), who are pursuing the Arab Bank in a civil suit for its alleged role as a conduit for terrorist funds, were able to access information gathered by Israeli intelligence for presentation when the case comes before a jury, hopefully soon. A former official of the NSC under Presidents Clinton and Bush test... that, "civil litigation can substantially enhance the financial consequences that such entities face" (referring specifically to terrorist financiers).

5. THE 7TH AMENDMENT REPRESENTS A MAJOR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW AND ISLAMIC SHARIAH LAW: There are never any juries under Islamic shariah law for any case, civil or criminal - 800 years of American constitutional and Western jurisprudence go d..., and a local imam picks the winner. The results are not just primitive, but barbarous, especially for women.

6. LIMITING CIVIL JUSTICE EMPOWERS JUDGES, BUREAUCRATS & "RULING CLASS," AND DEGRADES LOCAL CONTROL: We already see a chasm between the ruling class and the rest of the... along numerous political and social fault lines. Federally imposed limits on the civil justice process, such as the preemption of state statutory and common law for certain claims or restrictions in federal civil pleading standards, only cede more power to the judiciary and federal bureaucrats. Putting complete control over certain products or services (e.g., implantable medical devices or financial services) in the hands of federal bureaucrats (the FDA or Treasury, respectively), with total immunity for the companies involved, is simply not the system of justice that the Founding Fathers intended to build. To reiterate what another conservative said, "The tort system promotes local control. Through the jury system, people at the local level decide what is reasonable behavior within their own communities. Ordinary citizens, applying a common sense standard of reasonable care, making decisions about acceptable and unacceptable conduct within their community - that is the essence of local government. And, as a result of those decisions, suppliers of goods and services within the marketplace will often modify their own behaviors... without the necessity of yet another costly and intrusive governmental bureaucracy..."

7. MOST IMPORTANTLY: BECAUSE THE FOUNDING FATHERS SAID IT'S A PRIORITY FOR ALL AMERICANS: There is no question that the Founding Fathers - from Jefferson and Madison and Hamilton, to John Adams, to George Mason, all explicitly said that citizens have the right to have their claims against their neighbors heard by a jury of their peers. It's mentioned in the Declaration of Indepedence and was protected in the first Vi....

Promoting the 7th Amendment is the "right" thing to do to avoid being a political hypocrite of the type that Tea Partiers want to remove from power. Republicans and Tea Partiers uphold the 1st Amendment in the face of a biased and inaccurate media elite, and we defend the 2d Amendment in the face of serial shooters. We should protect and promote the 7th Amendment at all times as we do all other Amendments in the Bill of Rights.

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Comment by Vern Shotwell on January 26, 2012 at 3:01pm

Can be, Charles. More problems than you can shake a stick at! But 7th is certainly core here!

Comment by Charles H. Sims on January 26, 2012 at 2:18pm

Vern, Remember the 6th and 8th amendments are also violated!

Comment by Vern Shotwell on January 26, 2012 at 12:22pm

Sorry, John Gaver.

You are speaking of tort reform, a matter to be handled at the State level....10th amendment issue, and others, like enumerated powers.

This discussion is of the 7th amendment, Federal level. This also is a hurdle for selling insurance across State boundaries, also beyond the scope of this discussion.

Comment by John Gaver on January 26, 2012 at 11:55am

An unhindered right to a jury trial?... Yes.

But a right to get away with entirely frivolous suits?... No.

The simple fix is this.

  1. Loser pays all costs of the trial and the other side's attorney fees and related costs.
  2. If the loser is indigent AND the loser's attorney is working on a contingency fee basis, then the loser's attorney pays all of those costs. (Attorney's on retainer shoyld not be responsible for such costs.)

This does NOTHING to limit a person's right or ability to file suit and take it to trial. But what it will do is prevent millions of frivolous lawsuits every year. Ambulance-chasers will not want to take a case on contingency, that is clearly frivolous, since they could end up having to pay all costs themselves.

It would NOT prevent the type of valid cases that would kill ObamaCare. It would not prevent cases where there really is reasonable cause for the suit. Even marginal suits would still be brought, as many would probably be settled out of court, since neither side would want to risk going to court and losing. But those cases where there is clear fault will certainly not go to court, since the party at fault will not want to add court costs onto the cost of his settlement.

"Loser pays" is a proven concept that is currently working quite well, in several states.

Comment by Ed Stoneham on January 26, 2012 at 10:52am

As far as frivolous lawsuits are concerned, which are the source of most objections to lawyers, these lawsuits abrogate contracts, and the people responsible for these lawsuits are the states that fail to protect the right to contract.

The right to sue and to have a jury trial on other issues should definitely be upheld. For one thing, upholding this right will put the IRS out of business. It will prevent the IRS from punishing taxpayers without a trial and will allow citizens to sue the IRS for fraud and other infractions. The income tax will have to be either drastically simplified or completely abolished in favor of some other tax code that is less lawsuit-prone. This is a good thing, and we should be pushing for it by demanding the impeachment of anyone who opposes full compliance with the 7th amendment.

Comment by Andrew Cochran on January 26, 2012 at 10:44am
Thanks, Vern. After decades of undereducation in basic constitutional principles, Americans need a reminder of the actual text.
Comment by Vern Shotwell on January 26, 2012 at 10:27am

The 7th amendment,  part of the Bill of Rights,is not provided verbatim here. It's simple and straight forward! 

"In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law."

Twenty bucks in ObamaMoney, ain't much. But it is your constitutional right to sue....to air your grievances! For the Federal government to ignore the constitution in this gross manner must not stand. Either observe the constitution, or attempt to amend the Constitution. A suit for $21.00 seems most appropriate!

Comment by Mike NQR on January 26, 2012 at 10:19am

Thank you for educating us on this important matter. So many "lawyer jokes" abound, We have to remember which lawyers are good and necessary and which are useless. They would be the ones who write crazy laws.

Comment by Debrajoe Smith-Beatty on January 26, 2012 at 9:49am

Good article

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