AEI's Ted Frank has an interesting post at Point of Law about Barack Obama and the trial bar. Bottom line: does Obama's voting history show that he will side with the trial lawyers or with reformers on key civil justice reform votes:
In one of his first votes, Obama voted for the eminently sensible Class Action Fairness Act. This hypothetically annoys the litigation lobby (though they can be expected to support Edwards in 2008) and the cast of usual suspects who opposed the bill; one can also find various members of the lunatic left thoughtlessly buying the litigation lobby hype that this minor procedural reform protecting against abusive forum shopping by the plaintiffs' bar had much larger consequences, and thus expressing outrage against Obama for voting for it.So, Senator Obama, just where do you stand?
So Obama may have annoyed the lunatic left with his vote for CAFA. As a reform supporter, I'm far from convinced that this makes him someone willing to cross the plaintiffs' bar. Eighteen other Democrats also voted for CAFA. CAFA would have passed the previous Congress, except for its unfortunate timing arising just as Edwards had been named the vice-presidential nominee; Democrats fell into line and filibustered the bill to avoid having a civil justice reform pass at the same time, which might remind people of Edwards's unsavory means of acquiring his fortune on the backs of pregnant mothers and obstetricians. Obama didn't participate in the negotiations to get Democratic support, and he voted for every Democratic attempt to eviscerate the bill with amendments. Obama didn't break with the Democrats on any seriously contested tort reform measures: he filibustered medical malpractice reform, and was one of the votes to kill the asbestos reform bill (which effectively failed by one vote). Obama claimed to support medical malpractice reform in his Senate campaign (or, at least, made pro-reform swing voters think that he did), but, then, so did Kerry and Edwards in their 2004 presidential campaign.
Original post by Curt Mercadante at Illinois Justice Blog.