Alarmed by the corporate lobby’s aggressive efforts to undermine the U.S. civil justice system, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) has launched a new website and blog called Take Justice Back.
The aim of the website is to keep U.S. citizens informed about how their rights and protections, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, are being eroded by powerful corporations and lobbying groups trying to escape accountability. Armed with hundreds of millions of dollars, these corporate interests have infiltrated Congress and are using their financial might “scheming up ways to avoid accountability when they hurt someone,” the AAJ says.
The “Tort Reform” movement, often sold to the public as a righteous attack on “frivolous” lawsuits, is, according to the AAJ, actually a “movement to shield corporations from accountability by eliminating access to the court for consumers, workers and patients.”
Corporations have used a number of strategies to keep Americans out of the courts. Many, for instance, legally bind consumers to forced arbitration as a condition for doing business with a company. This often means that customers who want a product or service must agree to give up their right to sue should they be harmed in any way. The agreement is often hidden in plain sight, tucked away in the small print.
Other attacks on civil justice come in the form of capped damages in the consumer’s state; using corporate money to influence Congress, political elections and judicial appointments; and key legislation that can restrict a citizen’s access to justice.
Take Justice Back spotlights five corporate front groups behind the giant push to rig the judicial system. According to AAJ, those groups are: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), “whose sole mission is to eliminate the constitutional right to a trial by jury is the largest, most funded, and well-organized group working to restrict your rights at the federal level;” The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which AAJ calls “the ultimate shadowy front group pushing the tort reform movement at the state level;” the Civil Justice Reform Group (CJRG), which AAJ says is a “secretive” and “silent” group that has “no employees, no office, and leaves the lightest paper trail possible;” and the Searle Civil Justice Institute, which “coordinates empirical research efforts to limit your access to justice.”
The AAJ emphasizes that it is not anti-corporate, but it is solidly against the abuse of power wealthy corporations and their lobbies are wielding against the Constitutional rights of everyday Americans.
“Business built this great country into what it is today,” the Take Justice Back website explains. “But when corporations act irresponsibly they must be held accountable just like anybody else.”
Take Justice Back features an ongoing blog tracking developments pertaining to the erosion of legal rights in the U.S. and real-life stories of Americans who have fallen victim to unscrupulous policies and laws devised to shield corporations from accountability.