Overruled


Why I Love Courts
February 8, 2009, 11:39 am
Filed under: Ian

The reason why corporate lobbying firms are chock full of ex-hill staffers and Members of Congress is because they understand that the hardest part of convincing a Member to vote for your bill is often just getting a meeting with the right person.  Wall Street has the money to hire lobbyists who are close personal friends with Members and senior staffers, so they get a $700 billion Christmas present.  Recently laid off Americans who are battling foreclosure don’t have this kind of access, so they can eat cake.

What’s neat about the judiciary is that it doesn’t work this way.  Anyone at all, from Wal-Mart down to the most underpaid Wal-Mart Associate, can present a complaint to a court and a real live judge (or at least their clerk) will actually read it!  Not only that, but if you ask for relief in your complaint, the judge has to give you an answer.  You might not always like the answer, but, at the very least, judges are not allowed to avoid reaching results they or their friends don’t like by simply ignoring plaintiffs who can’t afford to hire expensive lawyers.

None of this, of course, is to say that courts are perfect.  Conservative judges have made a sport out of ignoring laws that are supposed to protect workers, consumers and other ordinary Americans.  Wealthier parties are frequently able to hire much better lawyers than less wealthy parties; and the quality of the advocates presenting a case to a judge matters a great deal in deciding the outcome.  Nevertheless, if you went back 1200 years in human history and announced that someday there would be an entire branch of government whose job is to listen to the grievances of peasants and kings alike, and to order kings and barons to compensate peasants when justice requires, you would probably be burned as a witch.

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