When, in the Course of Human Events…

Today is July 4, 2014, the 238th anniversary of the Continental Congress’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence, our break-up letter to our abusive partner Great Britain. No euphemisms here: it couldn’t seriously be said “it’s not you, it’s us”; it was most certainly them. King George, it seems, wasn’t a terribly nice guy.

Dear George: We need to break up. It’s not us, it’s you. Signed, Sam.

After explaining its purpose, the document continues in grand fashion; its second sentence having been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language”: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Among the many examples of the “repeated injuries and usurpations” inspiring the break-up is that Great Britain is guilty of “depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury”.

The right to trial by jury in a civil case – guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (part of the Bill of Rights) – is the cornerstone of the American legal system. It also has an equalizing effect, in that it permits individuals to seek redress in a court of law from formidable, well-funded adversaries, ranging from multi-billion dollar corporations to the government itself. Those who advocate for tort “reform” – including the City of New York – often cite large jury awards as support for their cause.

Don’t be fooled. The civil jury is truly the best way of leveling the playing field, and the attempts of those who preach the “benefits” of tort “reform” to chip away at this valuable right should be resisted mightily.

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