Blocking the Courthouse Door

BLOCKING THE COURTHOUSE DOOR….Stephanie Mencimer, a Washington Monthly alum who has just written a terrific book about the conservative tort reform crusade, will be hosting a book reading this Thursday at Olsson’s Books in Washington DC (418 7th St., NW between D & E Streets). Starting time is 7 pm.

The book is called Blocking the Courthouse Door, and I reviewed it for our January issue. Here’s an excerpt:

Insurance companies have been dutifully warning the public since the 1950s that “you pay for liability and damage suit verdicts whether you are insured or not.” But for its first three decades, their lawyer-bashing campaigns were both sporadic and desultory, a subject of interest only to a few conservative wonks camped out in little-known D.C.-based think tanks. That all changed in the late 1980s and early 1990s when a succession of Republican partisans, including Dan Quayle, Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, and Grover Norquist, finally realized just how powerful an issue tort reform could be.

….Tort reform was already a natural Republican Party issue thanks to its support in the business community, but it was Norquist, in his usual bald style, who pointed out in 1994 that there was more to it than just that: The big losers in tort reform are trial lawyers, and trial lawyers contribute a huge amount of money to the Democratic Party. “The political implications of defunding the trial lawyers would be staggering,” he wrote.

It’s a great book and a much-needed antidote to the past decade’s endless hysteria about the “tort crisis” in America. If you’re in DC, check it out.

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