Does a House bill about legal civil procedures provide a way to restore the protection of civil rights in America, or is it an unwarranted gift to trial lawyers that could be “paralyzing if not deadly” to the federal government?
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As in the Senate, House lawmakers appear divided along party lines. Democrats and their witnesses say that the Supreme Court’s recent decisions in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal have gutted the civil rights and antitrust laws and imposed an unfair and often insurmountable burden that will doom many valid claims. Republicans and their witnesses, meanwhile, say the court did the right thing to help reduce frivolous lawsuits that destroy small businesses and drag busy government officials into court unnecessarily.
Has the Supreme Court Undermined Civil Rights Enforcement?, Washington Independent, Dec. 17, 2009.
One of the witnesses was Prof. Eric Schnapper of the University of Washington, who argued that Congress should act quickly to overturn Iqbal and Twombly. whose prepared statement is here. The bill being considered in the House is H.R. 4115, the Open Access to Courts Act of 2009.