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President Obama: New Hope For Civil Justice?

I confess. Like many Americans, I took most of historic yesterday off to watch the inauguration. I was proud to witness events displaying that we, the people, had finally overcome some of the mindless hatred and prejudice of the past to elect, for the first time, an African-American citizen, as president of the United States. The timing, a day after Martin Luther King’s birthday celebration, was equally memorable. President Obama has a daunting task in front of him. We face a severe economic crisis, wars on several fronts, and a loss of confidence in our government and our elected officials. In my opinion, we also continue to sacrifice the civil rights of the individual at the alter of big business. It seems that what is good for business is important, regardless of whether it is bad for individual citizens.

In his inaugural address, President Obama said these words: ” Our Founding Fathers…drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man…Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake”.

Granted, he was not necessarily talking about civil justice or the civil justice system in America. The words, though, apply to the topic. Many attempts have been made, at state, judicial, and federal levels, to erode civil justice for individuals in favor of large corporate interests. Former President George W. Bush was solidly in favor of business over individuals or, to reverse a slogan of the American Association for Justice: “profits over people”. I challenge President Obama to stand for individual justice for all our citizens, to respect the right of all citizens to a trial by jury, to reject proposed tort immunities and other restrictions on our citizens’ access to our court system, and to restore the rule of law to our civil justice system. I challenge him to put “people over profits”. Big business can surely profit without the need to sacrifice the rights of individual. I believe that President Obama is a man of vision who will clearly see that the path to corporate profits should not and cannot be paved on the backs of the injured or disabled in our society. Mr. President: I take you at and hold you to your words.

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