Saturday, September 19, 2015

With a Shutdown Looming, the GOP Wastes Time Trying to Mess with the Courts. Which Dems Joined?

A government shutdown seems very likely to occur, but that doesn't stop the House GOP from wasting time on bills that will not go anywhere.

Thursday, the House voted to pass the so-called Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2015.
The bill would require courts to impose sanctions on parties that violate the prohibition on the filing of frivolous lawsuits, taking away the discretionary power that judges currently have.

It would overburden the court system by causing a proliferation of new cases (contrary to the stated intent) and could have a detrimental impact on civil rights litigation:
This bill represents a reinstatement of discredited rules that were previously in effect, from 1983 – 1993, and triggered almost 7,000 Rule 11 filings, compared with just 19 such filings from 1938 to 1983, when sanctions were not required. Reenactment of these rules would do the exact opposite of their claimed intent, leading to further litigation that is spurred by the prospect of mandatory sanctions and monetary compensation for attorneys’ fees.
The bill specifies that sanctions against parties that file frivolous lawsuits must include monetary payments to the other party for that party's expenses, including attorneys' fees and other costs, discrediting the judicial system by assuming judges are incapable of appropriately punishing abusive lawsuits. The bill would also eliminate the “safe harbor” provisions of Rule 11, under which a motion for sanctions will not be pursued if the challenged filing is withdrawn or corrected within 21 days of service of the motion for sanctions.
This bill would have a wide-ranging impact on civil rights cases, which often involve an "argument for the extension, modification or reversal of existing law or the establishment of a new law," and often have relied upon novel legal theories that are particularly susceptible to abusive claims of frivolity by defendants.  Had the provisions in H.R. 758 been in place at the time, they could have discouraged a number of landmark civil rights cases, including Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, and they could prevent new cases from ever being considered.
It passed 241 to 185

Three Democrats joined Republicans in voting for it:
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)

Five Republicans joined Democrats in voting against it:

Carlos Curbelo (FL-26)
Morgan Griffith (VA-09)
Walter Jones (NC-03)
Ted Poe (TX-02)
Steve Russell (OK-05)

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