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Texas's Proposition 12

An intense campaign is under way in Texas over Proposition 12, which would amend the state constitution so as to give the Legislature authority to set limits on non-economic damages awarded to plaintiffs in civil lawsuits (vast assemblage of news links via Google News). It is being enthusiastically backed by the state's medical community: YesOn12.org; Texas Medical Association; Texas Association of Family Physicians. Opposition: Save Texas Courts, TexansAgainstProp12.com, Texas Trial Lawyers Association. Opponents of the measure claim to fear the influence of "Big Money", but -- such a surprise! -- have heavily out-fund-raised and out-spent the proposition's supporters, with at least five law firms kicking in $250,000 each to the Save Texas Courts group (Houston Chronicle, Jul. 17, reprinted at National Constitution Center).

Curmudgeonly Clerk has a thorough roundup (Aug. 26), including the sentiments of major newspapers (the elite ones tend to be opposed, as usual) and weblog pointers. Kill As Few Patients As Possible (Sept. 2) and RangelMD (Aug. 20) also comment.

Remarkably, some opponents of the proposition have now carried out a sort of broad-daylight identity theft against the state's best-known tort reform organization, Texans for Lawsuit Reform. Observing the domain name TexansforLawsuitReform.com up for grabs, they registered it as their own and put up a site exactly mimicking the actual TLR's graphics and logo but then filling the rest of the page with boilerplate propaganda against the measure. The Austin Chronicle has more on the story (Lee Nichols, "Naked City", Aug. 29). Kill as Few also comments (Sept. 4).

Addendum: BeldarBlog (Aug. 28) has an excellent analysis of the division-of-powers angle of Proposition 12 (should tort law remain exclusively the province of judge-made law, or is it legitimate for lawmakers to help shape its course?).

(Cross-posted from Overlawyered, where it ran Sept. 4, 2003)

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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.