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Braley Rudely Interrupted by GOP Chants of "Trial Lawyer": Is Standing Up for Justice A Bad Thing?

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Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat representing the 1st District in Iowa, stood at the podium at 10:36 PM EST, Saturday evening. He began to address the issue of "medical liablility reform" because the concept of placing "medical liability reform" amendment into the health care bill, passed on Saturday evening, was raised, at the last second, by a Republican congressman. The amendment was defeated. Braley, a former trial lawyer, began to speak, indicating that Congress should be talking about "patient safety", not about "liability reform". He was rudely interrupted with chants of "trial lawyer" from the other side of the aisle; the entire episode was captured on YouTube. The acting Speaker of the House had to suspend Braley’s presentation until the house came to order.

Braley’s GOP colleagues chanted "trial lawyer", over and over again, as if the words were profane. Trial lawyers are used to this from certain members of the Republican Party; but that doesn’t change the fact that this despicable display of rudeness, from elected members of Congress, who are supposed to represent all of the people, who are sworn to uphold the concept of "justice" was disrespectful and disgusting. Their display was an insult to all attorneys, their clients and their clients’ families.

Trial lawyers, specializing in personal injury litigation, pursue litigation, usually at their own expense, with no fee charged unless there is a successful outcome. They pursue sensible and serious litigation; they have no incentive to pursue so-called "frivolous" litigation, because if there is no recovery, there is no fee. What sense does it make to pursue that which is "frivolous" if there is no financial benefit to doing so? Why would an attorney spend his/her own money pursuing such litigation. The short answer is: They wouldn’t.

Trial lawyers pursue these cases to obtain justice for ordinary citizens. Over the past twenty years or so, access to justice has been denied or severely limited to our injured and disabled citizens at state levels of government. A majority of states have some form of ‘tort reform’, and this type of legislation has not done a single thing to reduce health care system costs; all it has done is denied fair compensation to deserving victims and made all of us less safe. It has also greatly improved the financial statements of insurance companies.

Now, in its grand tradition of taking contributions from large business interests, insurance companies, and big pharma, the GOP wants to take this locally successful corporate bailout concept to the national level. That is why they attempt to drown out rational speech; that is why they introduce a "medical liability reform" amendment at the 11.59 th hour. Because they have no citizen conscience; they are completely and utterly beholden to corporate interests and concerns. And, they will, if you let them, sell out each and every citizen in this country in favor of "what’s good for business".

I have asked, at this location, what is more important to our citizens and our legislature: Human life or business life? The Republican party is increasingly taking the absurd position that the priority is business, of course. Most Democrats and every trial lawyer I know, disagree with the Republicans. I must agree with the Dems and the trial lawyers. Patient safety is not something that can be bartered away for more insurance industry profits. Business is not worth being successful unless our most treasured values, our common hummanity and our right to live in a safe and secure environment, are preserved. In their zeal to protect their precious insurance and pharmaceutical political contributions, the Republicans have lost their way. They have stopped representing "we, the people" and, in increasing numbers, have decided to represent only large corporate interests. They have lost any sense of respect for opposing points of view. They have lost their conscience, they do not care about your safety or security. In future elections, "we, the people" should make sure that they find their way, find their conscience or find a job in the private sector.

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    I watched most of the afternoon and nights debates. It was a spectacle to watch each side get up and take jabs at the other side. But, this was one of the few times when there was this type of disrespect. It was outrageous behavior that seems like something out of the house of commons. Thanks for taking this issue head on.