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Legal issues in Congress in the month ahead

Politico's The Crypt blog publishes the e-mail from the Senate Democratic Caucus on the issues leadership intends to address before adjourning (one target date is September 26). Energy figures prominently, and the entire list is shaped by electoral politics, of course.

Those issues with the most direct effect on business-related litigation (save for judge confirmations), priorities as identified by the Senate Majority Leader:  

  • Americans with Disabilities Restoration Act: Business groups like my employer, the National Association of Manufacturers, have reached a modus vivendi with disability advocates and accept the legal burdens represented by the legislation. The Heritage Foundation is much more critical, although it finds the Senate version, S. 3406, far preferable for business than the version that passed the House, H.R. 3195.
  • Equal pay legislation, i.e., the Ledbetter legislation, which would eliminate statutes of limitation in employment discrimination suits and wreak other legal mischief. The Senate failed to envoke cloture on H.R. 2831 in April, and another run at the bill would remind voters of Sen. Obama's support and Sen. McCain's opposition. For previous posts on the subject, go here.
  • Federal media shield, i.e., the Free Flow of Information Act. Senator Reid pushed S. 2035 to a cloture vote right before the August recess but Republicans blocked consideration to increase pressure for a vote on energy legislation. The major media continue to lobby for the federal media shield (c.g. this L.A. Times editorial and this Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-ed from the head of the Society of Professional Journalists, "Shield law needed, not for press, but for democracy"), so Senate action can be seen as an effort to shore up the base.

And that appears to be it, although it wouldn't be surprising to see an anti-binding-arbitration measure slip through someplace.

UPDATE (3 p.m.): Now that we look at it again, Politico's speculation notwithstanding, it's possible that Sen. Reid's e-mail referred to the Paycheck Fairness Act, H.R. 1338, which passed the House on August 1. Among other things, it would lift the cap on punitive damages for suits filed under the Equal Pay Act. Daniel Schwartz recently wrote about the legislation at Overlawyered.com.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.