Speaking of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-turned-D, Penn.), my Wall Street Journal op-ed seems to have gotten under his skin. Apparently, to the Senator's keen legal mind, my differing with him over the merits of his proposed legislation amounts to defamation. The good Senator writes in to the Journal:
I read with some dismay James R. Copland's op-ed of Feb. 9, "How the Plaintiffs Bar Bought the Senate." A responsible lawyer wouldn't descend to defamation, especially when wrong on the facts.
When the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal (2009) changed decades of case law, I introduced legislation to reinstate notice pleading. It was hardly to allow "legal fishing expeditions . . . for filing baseless claims." When aiders and abettors are criminally liable under federal law for fraud in securities law violations, it stands to reason such misconduct should make them liable for civil damages. It is absurd to label that a "shakedown."
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit correctly allows lawyers to expense advancing litigation costs. Making such deductions allowable in other federal circuits would put those lawyers on an equal footing with other taxpayers who can deduct similar expenditures in the year when made.
A little civility in journalism would be helpful, as well as in Congress.