The American system of checks and balances, which characterizes the three branches of our federal government, also informs the relationship between the federal government and the states, and the relationship among the states as well.
Sovereign within its boundaries, states are free to "experiment" with different styles of governance and to learn lessons from the experimentation of other states. Successful experiments conducted in one state can be duplicated in another, and unsuccessful ones can be avoided.
Illinois is one of 50 "laboratories of democracy," and a number of "labs" are doing better work.
Georgia is one. Its governor recently signed into law the Transparency in Lawsuits Protection Act, which allows a private right to sue only when the enabling state legislation expressly authorizes it.
Illinois Civil Justice League President Ed Murnane thinks our state should follow Georgia's lead, but he is not optmistic, given this year's state supreme court rejection of medical malpractice reforms.
"Illinois residents and taxpayers can only dream of government policies that restrict -- rather than encourage -- litigation," he laments. "Our legislature, and particularly our court system, have demonstrated that they are more interested in encouraging and promoting litigation, rather than limiting it."
Murnane cites our unwillingness to do good "lab" work as "one of the reasons Illinois is consistently ranked among the bottom five or 10 states for judicial and legal fairness."
He's right. Our state "lab" is dormant, verging on lifeless. We need to eject the do-nothing occupants and recommit ourselves to the science of good government with fresh ideas and fresh leadership.