The Fraying Fabric of the Rule of Law

There’s a good op-ed online in today’s Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi by insurance-defense lawyer Alex Alston (certainly no bomb-throwing liberal trial lawyer) about how that state’s high court has shifted to protecting businesses and insurers over injured consumers. Switch the states and names and he could as well be describing the Texas Supreme Court.

Notable among Alston’s comments are these:

“Our entire judicial system is built on a “rule of law.” In other words, it makes no difference whether you are a prince or a pauper, the law must be precisely the same for all. A court that substitutes its opinion for that of a jury, or simply decides a case for the benefit of a favored party, tears the basic fabric of our judicial system to shreds. If the rule of law is not followed, the entire foundation of our judicial system is undermined. The public has a right to expect the Supreme Court to follow the rule of law and decide the cases before it fairly and impartially without favor to any party regardless of status, race, creed or color…Should we not demand that [they] follow the rule of law? Certainly it is a fair question to ask why 88 percent of the time, the court reverses a jury verdict for a plaintiff and substitutes its own opinion, and why, in 100 percent of the cases involving an injured victim’s appeals from a jury verdict in favor of a defendant, the court finds for the wealthy or powerful defendant. Our court must be more than a rubber stamp for the rich and powerful. Shouldn’t we expect that and more?”

Well said, Mr. Alston. Undermining the rule of law for injured consumers hurts us all in the long run.