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Un-Making Law: The Conservative Campaign to Roll Back the Common Law
     

Un-Making Law: The Conservative Campaign to Roll Back the Common Law

by Jay M. Feinman
 

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Feinman (law, Rutgers U.) offers a broad view of the movement over the past 25 years to reduce the legal protections available to ordinary people and to increase the legal benefits for corporations and other holders of wealth and power. He describes how businesses and conservatives have organized their economic and political power to manipulate public opinion, lobby,

Overview

Feinman (law, Rutgers U.) offers a broad view of the movement over the past 25 years to reduce the legal protections available to ordinary people and to increase the legal benefits for corporations and other holders of wealth and power. He describes how businesses and conservatives have organized their economic and political power to manipulate public opinion, lobby, and litigate to change the law. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A powerful right-wing conspiracy is gunning for the law-and seeking to discard a hundred and more years of constitutional precedent. So argues contract-law specialist Feinman (Distinguished Professor of Law/Rutgers Univ.; Law 101, not reviewed) in this dissection of the "comprehensive and coordinated campaign to reshape the common law" being mounted by a neoconservative cabal of industrialists, land developers, bankers, politicians, insurance companies, and even some academics, all backed by "a network of trade groups, think tanks, right-wing foundations, membership organizations, lobbyists, and litigation centers." Their goal, by Feinman's account, is to restore the classical legal theory of the Gilded Age, when robber barons ruled the roost and working people were afforded few protections by the law. The social Darwinism implicit in that theory was pretty well discarded a century ago, writes Feinman, but it's now back, manifested in arguments that hold that government is the problem and not the solution, and that market values are the sole measure of social good. Such arguments, advanced with increasing force in just the last few years, have been raised against a legal system supposedly gone mad, against the bogeyman of fat-cat trial lawyers out to enrich themselves at the expense of their poor clients. In fact, Feinman holds, this characterization is grossly exaggerated if not downright false. Any attempt to limit awards for damages will result in injustice: "Because they take cases on a contingent fee basis and advance the costs of litigation, victims' lawyers will only take cases where the probable recovery is much greater than the expense of investigating and pursuing the case."Moreover, he adds, the present tort system provides a needed check: manufacturers and providers take greater pains to issue safe products and services when the threat of liability hangs over them, and "if other forms of government protection are decreasing, tort law as a regulator of safety becomes more, not less, important." Feinman's provocative essay provides, among other things, an interesting take on the spilled-coffee-at-McDonald's case.
From the Publisher
Even otherwise knowledgeable citizens will not understand what they read in the press about the Republican movement for 'tort reform' without reading Un-Making Law. Jay Feinman lays out the actual facts, and shows that what masquerades as 'reform' is better described as a deliberate attempt to repeal the historic, democratic reform of tort and contract law that aimed to protect the general public. Un-Making Law clears away the false rhetoric of the 'reform' movement and makes it possible for citizens to decide whether they really want to submit their welfare totally to the market. Feinman thinks not, and so do I.—Stanley N. Katz, acting director, Law and Public Affairs at Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

'Un-Making Law . . . points out that George Bush's agenda involves more than playing cowboy in Iraq and giving tax breaks to fat cats. It also includes enacting tort reform, which . . . would ultimately reduce legal protections available to ordinary Americans while increasing those same protections for HMOs, drug companies, and other manufacturers.'—Frank Rubino, Philadelphia Weekly

'I highly recommend this book . . . It recognizes that tort law is not the only target in this radical campaign to reduce consumer rights. Today's neo-conservatives also seek absolute property rights and contracts free of government regulation. Feinman's book is a thunderbolt.'—Michael Rustad, Trial Magazine

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807044261
Publisher:
Beacon
Publication date:
10/28/2004
Edition description:
None
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.28(h) x 0.92(d)

Meet the Author

Jay M. Feinman, an authority on contract law, tort law, and legal education, is Distinguished Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law, Camden. He is the author of Law 101: Everything You Need to Know About the American Legal System.

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