(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Friday, July 26, 2002

no shame It's hard to tell whether anybody really believes, anymore, that the Republican establishment believes that most things should be left up to state and local government rather than to those out-of-touch, inside-the-beltway, folks in Washington. We know (remember assisted suicide) that AG Ashcroft's support for that view is thin rhetoric, which he discards when convenient. And we know it, too, of the President, who wants a federal statutory cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. These are, and always have been, purely state law cases. Each state is, and always has been, free to cap damages in these cases, at least to the extent allowed by its own constitution. The states, or many of them, have chosen NOT to enact the caps that the President wants to impose by federal mandate. And, unlike areas of justifiable federal intervention, here there's no convincing argument that one state's failure to act will have negative consequences on the rest of us; to the contrary, if physicians really are driven out of (say) Nevada by high jury verdicts, that would just mean more docs for the rest of the states. (Something like pollution, on the contrary, does call for federal involvement, as the negative consequences of that behavior do cross state lines in many ways). It's quite obviously something on which those who really BELIEVE in decentralized government, and a limited role for the feds, should speak up in opposition to the President. Otherwise, everything (again) is just spin.

UPDATE: Cooped Up (look left for the link, along with other good law blogs) has a similar post today, but more erudite because he's a law professor. In my defense, though, mine was a more bleary-eyed early morning posting.

posted by sam 6:03 AM 0 comments


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