Yuletide wrap

December 24, 2008


DC Dicta will be taking a holiday hiatus until after the New Year. But before you rush off to do all that last-minute gift shopping, here’s one last look at the legal news:

Chamber’s suing mad: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the legality of a Bush administration rule requiring all companies working on federal contracts to electronically check the legal working status of their employees through the E-Verify system. (Lawyers USA)

IRA help must wait for New Year: Congress has passed a bill that will suspend the rule requiring retirees over the age of 70 1/2 to withdraw a certain amount from their retirement accounts in 2009. But the Treasury Department announced that no such similar suspension will be made for 2008, meaning anyone who has yet to meet the minimum distribution requirement must do so by Dec. 31. (Lawyers USA)

Holiday Pardons: President Bush issued 19 pardons this week – but none was for Scooter Libby. (Washington Post, New York Times)

FDA takes another look at BPA: First the FDA called the chemical safe, then a wave of scientific reports questioned that finding. Now the FDA is taking another look at the chemical bisphenol-A, a controversial component found in products such as baby bottles. (New York Times)

Pleading the Fifth – a little too late: A witness in convicted Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ corruption trial said he should have evoked his constitutional right not to testify instead of taking the stand and incriminating himself. (AP)

Luck be a justice tonight: How does someone become a Supreme Court justice? Says retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: be “the right person in the right spot at the right time. Simply stated, you must be lucky.” (USA Today)

The year that was: As the year comes to a close, here’s a look at the most popular online stories of the year from Lawyers USA. (Lawyers USA)

Happy Holidays!


Chamber: Stop lawsuits – but not ours

December 11, 2008

commerceThe U.S. chamber of Commerce frequently backs efforts to curb lawsuits, something Chamber officials say is necessary to protect businesses.

“The last thing this country needs is more lawsuits sucking from the nation’s economy,” Chamber president and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said just days after the November election, warning that Democrats in the White House and congress could block tort reform efforts.

But in a recent letter from the Chamber’s chief lobbyist R. Bruce Josten to Congress, the group urged lawmakers to protect the right of its member companies to sue.

Josten sent a letter the Washington lawmakers voicing concern about a provision in the proposed rescue plan for U.S. auto companies that would restrict the right of the companies from “participating in, pursuing, funding, or supporting in any way, any legal challenge (existing or contemplated) to State laws concerning greenhouse gas emission standards.”

Leaving that provision in the legislation “would not only deny the manufacturers their basic constitutional right to use the federal courts to redress what they believe are unwise or unfair policy decisions, but it could conceivably also deny the automobile manufacturers the right to participate with trade associations (such as the U.S. Chamber), or environmental groups, in litigation for or against such policies.

“Not only would the terms of the bridge loan remove the automobile manufacturers’ constitutional rights,” Josten continues, “but the terms could force these unrelated third parties to forfeit their constitutional rights to sue as well, because they would be ‘supported in any way’ if the automobile manufacturers are part of their membership.”

Just this week, the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform launched a website and television ad campaign against excessive lawsuits.