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The Voice of Reason: How lawyers make laws that make them money

July 1, 1993

The Voice of Reason: How lawyers make laws that make them money

By Tony Lamia

On August 17, 2002, many misguided people were marching in Washington, D.C. in support of reparations for slavery. This idiotic idea has to have been concocted by lawyers. If a lawsuit is allowed (win or lose), it demonstrates the way lawyers make laws (oh, and by the way, money).

The legislature sets time tables (statutes of limitations) for filing suits. If you have a claim from an injury that occurred past the statute of limitations (typically, not more than nine years), then your claim would not be allowed in court.

To get a judge to accept an exception to the rule, and allow a claim for damages for injuries occurring 150 years ago (obviously long after the law now permits), would be to create a new law, without having to go through the legislative process. This is due to the fact that court decisions (unless specified otherwise by the judge) can be used as the law in other, similar cases.

So, let’s assume the reparations, class-action lawsuit is filed. I imagine that the plaintiffs’ lawyers will argue that the statutes of limitations don’t apply because the effects of slavery are still felt today (and some other arguments they will no doubt dream up). Let’s further assume that the judge is biased against big business, and thinks this is a good idea. Opposing counsel will argue the obvious, to wit: under the Constitution, only the legislature is authorized to make laws, and besides, it would open a Pandora’s box leading to lawsuits by all who are “still affected” by injuries from the past, regardless of how long ago. The obvious result would be to render statutes of limitations practically meaningless.

But judges don’t concern themselves about the Constitution; after all, a long time ago they gave themselves the power to interpret it any way they choose, including usurping the lawmaking power of the legislatures. So, the judge could enter an order declaring the exception to limitation statutes.

The opposition would then appeal the decision. Judges should make decisions based on their understanding of the Constitution and existing law, as well as the intent of the legislature as revealed by reviewing the record of proceedings that lead to the enactment of the law in question. However, today judges are frequently swayed by what they perceive to be the public’s sentiment. If they feel that reparations would be politically correct, then so be it. Thus, new laws are often made at the whim of lawyers and judges. The lawyers concoct a new legal theory, and the judges go for it.

Once the lawsuit is allowed to proceed to trial, the plaintiffs may win, in which case billions will be assessed against manufacturers, driving up the prices of their products. As usual, the lawyers will get rich at the public’s expense. Meanwhile, probably little, if any, of the money would end up in the hands of individuals in the minority group.

Another bad side effect of reparations for slavery is to punish those of us who had nothing to do with it, and that could further drive a wedge between the races. I believe that political leaders should concentrate on minimizing racism.

But the plaintiffs might ultimately lose, in which case the lawyers still win, because then they would have a new rule to get around the statutes of limitations, thus opening up an avenue to endless lawsuits heretofore disallowed. To lawyers, more lawsuits mean more money. So, what’s the remedy?

In my book, court decisions would not extend beyond the suit in which it was rendered. In other words, abolish the common law. I believe that laws made within the legislative process, after debate by elected representatives of we the people, would be better than those made in courts by lawyers.

I also advocate that voters should never vote for a lawyer for legislative office, so that non-lawyers would make laws that we could better understand, and that serve the public interests instead of lawyers’ bank accounts.

Tony L. Lamia is the author of “Blame It On The System.” www.blamesystem.com.

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