While I have great respect for the career and writing of L. Gordon Crovitz, the former publisher of The Wall Street Journal and who earlier in his career was the award winning writer of the column " Rule of Law", his hysteria over the Wyeth v Levine case and it's implications for society are really a bit unhinged.
You can read his commentary in today's Wall Street Journal online in which he immediately says that the verdict over the issue of preemption is going to put a huge drag on innovation and progress and compared the opponents of tort reform to the Luddites of the early 1800's who feared industrialization and went to extreme lengths to stop the mechanization of the textile industry in England.
While I like a good historical reference as much as the next man, what in the world does a court decision over PREEMPTION and state rights have to do with stopping innovation and progress in medicine? He makes a great point out of the warning labels, the FDA review and all the precautions taken to avoid the injury that Ms. Levine suffered, but he utterly misses the point of this law suit, which was her right to bring the case against Wyeth in the state where she lived and the injury occurred and in which state the product was sold and administered, versus being forced to bring it in federal court under the shield of preemption.
This has nothing to do with Luddites and has everything to do with the last gasping breathes of a "reform movement" i.e. Tort Reform, that over reached badly and is finally being recognized by the judiciary and others for what it is, a thinly disguised political movement designed to protect the major contributors to the Republican party and cripple a major group of contributors to the Democratic party.
This movement has very little if anything to do with serious court or tort reform and everything to do with politics. As I have said before, as a very conservative Republican I like to remind people that the most conservative states in the country, Wyoming, Arizona and Utah all defeat tort reform every time it is offered to the citizens because true conservatives as opposed to East Coast Rockefeller Republican's and statists know this is nothing more then stripping peoples rights to take a case to court in their own city, county or state. That the Republican's have crippled the legal rights of citizens all over the country for decades to access the courts simply for political purposes is shameful and will be a blight on the party for years to come.
In the commentary, which I do urge you to read, Mr. Crovitz refers to Phillip Howard, who is the author of the book, " Life with out Lawyers". We recently had Mr. Howard on The Legal Broadcast Networks daily show, Speaking of Justice and it was an excellent interview. I've attached it to this blog post but I really do suggest you read that book as well. Mr. Crovitz is, like many a fine journalist and writer, able to take the elements of Mr. Howard's book and use them to accent his point, but the book itself is really a thoughtful examination of the civil justice system that most of us make our living in and I urge you to read it yourself.
Only when people begin to really look at the forces driving the debate on both sides and the impact it is having on our society can we start making educated decisions about where we stand on the increasing politicized judiciary and how each side has dirty hands in the process of appointing and electing judges to give them the win they seek. I know the East Coast Republican's are bitterly disappointed over Wyeth v Levine as 8 years of Bush court policy was counted on to win the preemption case, but the judges in a 6-3 decision ended that hope. Tough luck Mr. Crovitz, but tort reform took a major shot and only time will tell if it's dead for good.