The obstetrician who delivered my six children in the 1950s and '60s was never sued during a lifetime of delivering babies. Now, an obstetrician neighbor, one of the last obstetricians in private practice in the county where I live, is closing her practice and moving away because her malpractice insurance premium has soared to $300,000 a year.
Kerry is hoping that Edwards will be as successful with U.S. voters as he has been in handpicking juries susceptible to his rhetoric. But Edwards can't pick his jury this November, and taxpayers are the opposite of jurors, who are willing to make large awards at someone else's expense.
American voters know that lawsuits will not protect our country from terrorists or create a single job for our economy. How will Edwards react to a deadly attack by terrorists - sue them?
Thirty years ago, California placed a reasonable limit of $250,000 on "pain and suffering" and other dubious "non-economic" damages (of course, not limiting economic damages). As a result, there is no malpractice crisis in California and doctors are not leaving the state.
Americans have probably never had a national candidate whose personal and political money is identified with one particular economic group: trial lawyers who file dubious lawsuits claiming wildly exaggerated damages. Edwards' presidential campaign raked in $9.3 million from lawyers. Edwards' nomination for vice president "will get their adrenaline pumping and it will open up their checkbooks to a degree never seen before," observed political science professor Larry Sabato, the founder and director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. A glance at the reaction in the legal community to the choice of Edwards confirms this view.
Trial lawyers plow their lawsuit winnings back into politics to prevent anyone from interfering with their game. Nearly three out of four dollars that attorneys contribute to political campaigns are to Democrats.
The Association of Trial Lawyers of America was holding its annual convention in Boston when the news of Edwards' pick arrived. The ATLA attorneys broke into "a whole lot of cheering and foot stomping," explained New York State Trial Lawyers Association President Shoshana Bookson. "The mood was excitement beyond description."
ATLA is the national group that defends the shocking $2.9 million judgment against McDonald's for making hot coffee that a customer spilled on herself while riding in a car. The ATLA Web site defends that award - later reduced - by saying that it "equals about two days of McDonald's coffee sales," as though that justifies redistributing wealth.
It is no surprise that Edwards has voted against every bill in Congress that proposed limits on non-economic damages. If elected, he'll be glad to follow the Democrats' usual policy of redistributing tax money to their favored groups.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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