Ken Connor

The civil justice systems of the states are too important to expose to the ever-changing political winds blowing inside the Beltway. The tort system promotes responsible behavior by holding wrongdoers accountable for the harm they cause others. State civil justice systems provide the mechanism where local people, through a jury of their peers, decide what is reasonable and appropriate within their own communities. The jury system is beyond the influence of special interests because jurors cannot be paid by either side. Such a system affirms local control and, therefore, is the very essence of federalism—a quintessential conservative principle.

Liberals, for many years, have worked to undermine the authority of state and local government using the federal courts as their mechanism. Knowing that their agenda would never fly in "fly-over country" they petitioned the federal courts to ram it through. And like-minded, activist judges obliged. Mr. Romney and the other Republican presidential candidates rail against this judicial activism and promise that their judges will be different. But using the forces of the federal government to dictate the outcomes of state court proceedings is just as "activist" and destructive of state and local rights. The only difference is the mechanism that is used. The outcome is the same—local citizens lose control.

"Washington knows best" is not a federalist principle. Politicians in Washington should not decide the outcomes of state court cases. That is best left to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.