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David C. Johnson and the Commonweal Institute

Last year, the LawPundit blog was especially impressed by a speech David C. Johnson gave to ATLA. In it, he makes the standard litany of accusations of a right-wing conspiracy, with the devastating tag line that, when it comes to liability reform, for the think tanks that support it,

Honesty and truth are not part of that equation � only winning.

This is an ironic accusation to make in front of ATLA, of all groups. But let's take a look at David C. Johnson's own work, which has gotten a small foothold on the far left. In a 2003 report, he attempts to smear the liability reform movement as extremist:

These foundations [that fund tort reform] are associated with the extreme right of the political spectrum. The Bradley Foundation's money comes from Lynde Bradley, a member of the John Birch Society.

This is fascinating on many levels. First, the logic is ridiculous: are we also to assume that because the Ford Foundation's money came from Henry Ford, a prominent anti-Semite, that the liberal organizations the Ford Foundation supports are necessarily anti-Semitic? The attempt to affiliate tort reformers with conspiracy theorists is also ironic, given ATLA's support for vaccine conspiracy theories reminiscent of the scare over fluoridization.

But the premise isn't even true. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation was founded in 1985, almost entirely funded from the proceeds of that year's sale of the Allen-Bradley Company to Rockwell International.

The John Birch Society was founded in 1958.

Lynde Bradley died in 1942.

"Honesty and truth are not part of the equation" indeed.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.