Hurdles yet to come

By The Madison County Record | May 29, 2005

The measures were long-sought and hard-fought. Now inquiring minds want to know-- will Illinois judges allow medical malpractice reform?

They put the kibosh on similar measures back in 1995. Fears today that the courts will sing an ‘unconstitutional’ encore have reform supporters publicly pleading with our judiciary like visitors to Don Corleone on his daughter’s wedding day.

“These findings are specific,” implored State Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton), in a post-game interview with the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. “They are findings that express to the Supreme Court the strong desire of the people as represented by the General Assembly that something be done about this problem.”

In other words, please won’t you let us legislators pass a law? Pretty please? With sugar on top?

That esteemed state senators—elected by “the people” (that’s us)—have been reduced to begging judges for permission to address a major problem like access to health care suggests a major problem in itself. The balance of power in this state has moved way out of kilter.

Trial lawyers know this and, as such, plan an ‘end run’ around the electorate that steamrolled their ideas. They are—of course—planning to sue over medical malpractice reform, appealing to activist judges to put silly lawmakers in their place.

When the average person hears ‘unconstitutional’ they think of measures that limit our right to free speech or practice of religion. But judges these days can find an ‘interpretation’ to justify pretty much any position that fits their partisan flavor.

This sad reality restrains the will of Illinois voters and renders irrelevant our electoral politics.

It doesn’t matter who you elect to the General Assembly when, in the end, a judge is going to make all the serious policy decisions anyway.

An exaggeration? Not if doctors are leaving and democracy is unable to do anything about it.

We think we did. Now we’ll see if we can.

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