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Making the case for federal tort reform

Point of Law.com, April 25, 2012

BY ISAAC GORODETSKI

Paul Taylor, Chief Counsel to the Subcommittee on the Constitution for the House Judiciary Committee, lays out a comprehensive argument for federal tort reform in The Federalist Papers, the Commerce Clause, and Federal Tort Reform published in the Suffolk University Law Review.
In the modern era, Congress has enacted many federal "tort reform" statutes that supersede contrary state laws. However, some question the appropriate constitutional role of Congress in enacting federal tort reform. The Federalist Papers, the authoritative exposition on the Constitution written by James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, describe the need for a new federal Constitution that gave Congress the power to regulate "Commerce ... among the Several States." This Article explores in detail the extent to which the arguments presented in the Federalist Papers, many of them too often overlooked, support Congressional efforts to enact federal tort reform. Indeed, the authors of the Federalist Papers advocated for a Commerce Clause that Congress could use to remove state barriers to trade that weakened the national economy. The examples Madison and Hamilton gave illustrating the need for the Commerce Clause encompass by their logic many federal tort reforms regarding both state products and personal liability law, insofar as such reforms are required to counteract significant negative impacts on America's free enterprise system and thereby facilitate the free flow of voluntary commerce between willing buyers and willing sellers nationwide.