Losing Faith in our Courts

America's judicial system is no longer interested in the common man.

I believe I've mentioned here before something I read many years ago and can no longer find. A statement that said,

Americans will take a lot of abuse from their legislative officials and from their executive as long as they can trust their court system. But when Americans lose trust in the judicial system, watch out, because the revolution is coming.

At that time, I could not imagine that the US would ever become what it is today, bought and sold by corporate interests. The US Supreme Court has demonstrated a desire to put both corporate and conservative principles ahead of our traditional concepts of justice for a number of years now. And every time I read of a situation like this, I am saddened and concerned about our future as a democracy.

This is from The Nation, regarding a case called Ashcroft v. Iqbal. The Court has created a new hurdle for citizens, as a means of protecting corps. You can read the article for more on that particular case, below are the main results of their decision.

The procedural rules for our federal courts, established in 1938, were designed to provide relatively easy entrée. Civil Rule 8 required only a “short and plain statement” showing a right to relief. For over 60 years, the Supreme Court repeatedly said that plaintiffs need only give the defendants notice of their claims; proof of what actually happened was for trial. But in Iqbal, the Roberts Court drastically departed from the justice-seeking ethos of easy access….

The Court’s opinions expressed concern only about the burden on corporate America of defending against claims, as well as the distraction and intrusion of litigation against government officials and agencies. The effects of closing the courthouse doors on individuals were barely acknowledged….

To obtain a hearing, plaintiffs must now have significant information about their claims before they sue. But many injured people simply don’t or can’t know what happened to them. Before Iqbal, plaintiffs could give notice of their claims and then find the relevant evidence. The discovery stage gives litigants the ability to obtain information they couldn’t get before bringing suit and levels the playing field so that each side has the same access to the facts, thereby promoting informed settlements, meaningful trials, and more accurate resolutions. By telling judges to dismiss cases they don’t think are “plausible” based only on the complaint, Iqbal steals the keys to discovery, preventing plaintiffs from unlocking vital information….

The Court’s new heightened pleading standard makes it extremely difficult for poor and middle-class people to bring suit.

A heightened pleading standard is the wrong answer to overstated concerns about discovery. It is also inconsistent with our desire to have a justice-seeking procedural system. Our judges have other tools for separating the wheat from the chaff.

The consequences of the ruling are seismic. Along with other procedural obstacles devised by the Supreme Court, Iqbal not only denies meaningful access to federal courts but also undermines the enforcement of important public policies designed to protect millions of Americans. It is now harder to bring cases involving employment discrimination, civil-rights violations, defective products, and consumer injuries. Indeed, the rate of dismissal in these cases since Iqbal is quite striking.




Republican "tort reform."

Doing everything possible to protect the wealthy from taking responsibility for their bad acts.

And there's tax reform

No tax on brokerage fees or financial services, what some call legalized gambling on Wall Street.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR