Bench Memos

This Day in Liberal Judicial Activism—December 18

1997Best is worst—Best v. Taylor Machine Works, that is. In this case, the Illinois supreme court, by a vote of 5 to 1, rules unconstitutional Illinois’s 1995 tort-reform act. Among its rulings, the court holds that a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages in personal-injury cases—a cap that applies generally to all plaintiffs in such cases—violates the state constitutional ban on “special” (as opposed to general) legislation. In twisted confusion over which branch has the authority to make law, it also rules that the cap violates separation of powers—because it “undercuts the power, and obligation, of the judiciary to reduce excessive verdicts.” Under the “special” legislation pretense, the court strikes down, too, the act’s abolition of the common-law doctrine of joint and several liability. And so on, and so on, for other provisions of the act.

Faulting the majority for “hoping to persuade the reader by prolixity,” dissenting justice Miller succinctly sums up the defects in the majority’s approach:

“Today’s decision represents a substantial departure from our precedent on the respective roles of the legislative and judicial branches in shaping the law of this state. Stripped to its essence, the majority’s mode of analysis simply constitutes an attempt to overrule, by judicial fiat, the considered judgment of the legislature.”

Most Popular

Education

Ivy-League Schools Wither

A  number of liberal bastions are daily being hammered — especially the elite university and Silicon Valley. A Yale and a Stanford, or Facebook and Google, assume — for the most part rightly — that each is so loudly progressive that the public, federal and state regulators, and politicians would of ... Read More
Elections

Weirdo O’Rourke

Friends of the young Bill Clinton and Barack Obama spoke of the special glow of promise they had about them, even back in their early twenties. Angels sat on their shoulders. History gave them a wink and said, “Hey, good lookin’, I’ll be back to pick you up later.” Robert O’Rourke? Not so much. He ... Read More
Elections

One More Profile of Beto, Because America Needs It

Somewhere in Texas, filed on the fly by a glossy-magazine correspondent, and totally not as a parody written by Jim Geraghty -- “It’s all about vision,” Beto O’Rourke tells me, standing tall upon the Texas prairie, or brush, or whatever this high hilltop area is supposed to be called. We’re watching the ... Read More