Anti-Business Bias

A few months ago, Vice President Dan Quayle delivered a speech to the American Bar Association--a speech still reverberating through court rooms and law schools. His message: that America has too many lawyers. Well, needless to say, some of the lawyers present weren't very happy to hear that. The president of the ABA even stood up and scolded the Vice President on the spot. Reporters called the story "Dan in the Lawyers' Den." But the question the Vice President posed is a good one. Why does American need 70 percent of the world's lawyers, he asked, when it has only 5 percent of the world's population? No wonder America is suffering from a litigation explosion. If you listened to yesterday's program, you heard me say that lawsuits are even driving some businesses out of the country. It's enough to make us ask, what's behind this staggering increase in lawyers and lawsuits? At the root is a change in the concept of law itself. The classical view is that law is based on unchanging principles of justice. The duty of a judge is to apply the law objectively, without being biased by personal feelings or preferences. But in the 1920s and 30s a new theory of law appeared: Legal Realism. So called because it claims to be more realistic than the classical view. The new theory says judges are just ordinary people. They can't help being influenced by their own concerns. They can't be completely objective. So let's stop asking them to try. Let's stop talking about objective principles of justice and just admit that judges make decisions according to their own personal or political agendas. In Legal Realism, law was redefined as social engineering. The new theory really took hold in the 1960s, when the judiciary turned to the left. Judges came to believe that the rich get rich by oppressing the poor. They came to treat lawsuits as a means of punishing the rich, and redistributing wealth to the little guy. It's this new theory that we see at work in many of today's far-fetched lawsuits. Take the case some years ago when angry unionists set fire to a large hotel in Puerto Rico. Lawyers for the victims of the fire didn't sue the individual arsonists. After all, they were union members; they represented the little guy. No, the lawyers went after the companies that made the carpets, the wallpaper, the bar stools. They argued that the companies should have made their products fire-resistant. They even sued the company that made the dice used in the hotel casino. It was a classic case of using lawsuits to soak the rich. If you read the Old Testament law, you won't find this bias against the rich. In Exodus 23:6, Scripture demands justice for the poor. But in the very same context, it warns us not to be partial to the poor either. This is the classical view of law--impartial justice for rich and poor alike. If lawyers today were to revert to that view, our nation would not be overrun by lawyers whose hidden agenda is to change the social and economic structures of society. Oh, yes. And Dan Quayle could walk unscathed out of the Lawyer's Den.


Chuck Colson


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