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Fred Thompson: Our Legal System “Ain’t Broke”; Tort Reform is not Conservative

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Republican attorney and former US Senator Fred Thompson shared a perspective on tort reform earlier this week that conservatives all around the country should read.

Republicans and conservatives are supposed to be for anything called tort reform…Some argue that the legislature should tell Tennessee juries that they can award only so much compensation in certain types of cases against certain types of defendants — regardless of the facts and circumstances of the case. I don’t agree with this approach, and I don’t think it’s "conservative." –Fred Thompson, The Tennessean

That’s right. Despite what the popular media leads us to believe, tort reform is not truly “conservative” by nature. And why should it be? What tort reform does is place arbitrary limits on the compensation plaintiffs can receive after they’ve been injured, for instance, due to somebody else’s negligence, no matter how egregious. It takes away the right of a jury to fully decide the outcome of a civil case.

To me, conservatism shows due respect for a civil justice system that is rooted in the U.S. Constitution and is the greatest form of private regulation ever created by society. Conservatism is individual responsibility and accountability for damages caused, even unintentionally. It’s about government closest to the people and equal justice with no special rules for anybody. It’s also about respect for the common-law principle of right to trial by jury in civil cases that was incorporated into the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution. Our system "ain’t broke." It is based upon tradition and common law and has provided justice to individuals and businesses alike." –Fred Thompson, The Tennessean

These words are wise. It doesn’t make sense that on the one hand, conservatives say they want to preserve the rights granted in the Constitution and limit the role of government, but on the other hand, they’re pushing for tort reform that would limit our Constitutional rights and increase the role of government. This is double-speak, plain and simple. Thanks to Mr. Thompson for recognizing it and speaking out.