In November I wrote on the remarks by Gibson Vance, President of the American Association for Justice, the largest trial lawyers’ association in the world, at the National Convention of the Federalist Society on November 20. Mr. Vance discussed the history of the right to civil jury trials, as protected in the 7th Amendment of the Constitution, and the current dangers to our rights through mechanisms such as federal preemption of state jury decisions.
Today, Mr. Vance reiterated many of those points in an article posted on the Huffington Post, titled “Constitutional Conservatives and the 7th Amendment.” He urged newly elected Congressmen from the ranks of Constitutional conservatives and Tea Party members to protect our 7th Amendment rights in future votes. You can read the entire article there, and here are some excerpts:
The constitutional conservatives’ stated commitment to our country’s founding principles is at this point widely known. But what is not widely known is where this group will come down regarding “tort reform” – or limiting people’s 7th Amendment right to trial by jury.
The right to a trial by jury for civil suits dates back almost 800 years, to the signing of the Magna Carta. Article 39 of the Magna Carta specifically guaranteed the right to a jury trial for civil suits and criminal cases.
Our Founding Fathers also agreed with the importance of a trial by jury. In the words of James Madison, “In suits at common law, trial by jury in civil cases is as essential to secure the liberty of the people as any one of the pre-existent rights of nature.”
Votes on tort reform will be one of the first true tests of newly-elected Constitutional Conservatives. In fact, the House will vote on Wednesday to repeal the health care reform law and take steps toward creating an alternative plan that would include limiting the legal rights of patients. These members should consider how this idea conflicts with the limited government they promote.
The concept of tort reform is an assault on states’ rights and individual freedom. Though politics may try to disguise our commonalities, constitutional conservatives claim adherence to very similar principles as do trial attorneys: preserving and promoting individual liberty, responsibility and the rule of law.
Our founding fathers had no intention of making the 2nd Amendment more or less important than the 7th, or any other part of the Bill of Rights. We cannot pick and choose which parts of the Constitution to follow or to ignore.