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Ledbetter: The Politics of Scheduling

The Senate rolls into action at 5 p.m. this evening, thanks to a scheduling maneuver by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV. In order to have the Democratic presidential candidates, Sens. Clinton and Obama, back in town for the cloture vote on H.R. 2831, the Majority Leader had to postpone the usual morning convening, since a cloture vote is supposed to follow one hour after the Senate is called into order.

That's politics and nothing to get too excited about, especially since the tactics make it clear the bill is not intended to become law. No, it's just another way just to measure loyalty to the agenda of organized labor, trial lawyers and various grievance groups. Although....Senate Republican have a point about being cynically criticized for going slow on a veterans benefits bill. Where the demand for alacrity now? (The Swamp from The Baltimore Sun has a good rundown of the machinations, and The Corner relates the Republican objections.)

Just as long as the legislation goes down. Contrary to what editorialists at The Washington Post ("Fair Pay, Fair Play") and the New York Times ("Pass the Fair Pay Act") claim, this bill does not correct a faulty Supreme Court ruling, this bill opens the floodgates to discrimination lawsuits ad infinitum nauseum. As the NAM's Key Vote letter makes clear, statutes of limitations were written into the law for a reason -- one being the prevention of decades of increasingly tenuous employment discrimination suits.

It won't come to that, but the President is indicating a veto. The White House released its Statement of Administration Policy on the bill yesterday, which you can read here. A good statement, emphasizing the value of statutes of limitations.

This legislation does not appear to be based on evidence that the current statute of limitations principles have caused any systemic prejudice to the interests of employees, but it is reasonable to expect the bill's vastly expanded statute of limitations would exacerbate the existing heavy burden on the courts by encouraging the filing of stale claims.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.