Where’s the Suit?

August 10, 2014

When my friend C.M. gets a burr up his backside, he calls me up and tells me he wants to “law” someone. Back home, he says, folks law one another! Who knew?

C.M. comes up with possible suits from time to time. I talk him down from them, pretty patiently. (Haven’t filed one yet!) That’s what good attorneys do, sometimes there’s even a free lunch in it, and the company is always terrific!

Now, if C.M. ever persuaded me to law someone on his behalf, the time between “we’re lawing” and when he expects me to file the suit will be measured in nanoseconds. We know what we’re doing, we’ve talked it to death, just do it!

I mention C.M. and the lawsuit sequence because I’m annoyed. Annoyed by the misuse and abuse of the civil justice system by none other than the majority in the United States House of Representatives. These people have been carrying on about lawing President Obama since early June. They adopted a resolution to sue the president on July 30. Still, there’s no suit. Nothing filed anywhere! (Months ago, a good attorney would have told Speaker Boehner and his crew to find a better way to spend their money … except that it’s our money, not theirs.)

Do I really care? Why? Yes, and here’s why. I deal with clients every day, some of whom choose to sue someone, and some of whom get sued. (I also have many clients who, so far at least, have not had the pleasure.) It’s a big deal for people. Really, it is!!! Lots of money gets spent, there’s a ton of stress, and lives end up changed too often!

And the court system matters. It’s an aspect of American life that, fortunately, most people can ignore. But we have a justice system that works, which adds significant value to our country. (Check out the GDP of countries lacking a civil justice system.) The system depends on precedents that get followed, mostly, and in almost every instance litigants get a fair and unbiased opportunity to resolve their disputes. Those realities add value to our country and to all of us.

So when this crew in Congress—the majority in the House, to be clear and specific—make a mockery of the process, I get annoyed and worse. Now, I’m not a fool, really! I know this is all f*cking theater, designed to satisfy the Tea Party because impeachment takes lots of time and energy, the votes are probably not there to “git ‘er done,” and a conviction in the Senate will never happen. Still, when the media treats the 7/30 resolution as if it was a suit against President Obama, it matters. Here, for example, is David Gregory, from the 8/10/2014 Meet the Press transcript:

We are back. Congress might be out for the summer, but the battle lines have been drawn between House Republicans and President Obama. They’ve filed suit against the president. There’s also been —

Whoa, wait a minute! Hold it! Stop!!! There’s $100 to your favorite charity if you can give me a case number—predating August 10, 2014—for the suit “[t]hey’ve filed ….”

When a client and I decide to proceed with a lawsuit, it’s a big deal. In most cases we make a demand first. It usually includes a draft of the complaint, to show we’re serious. If a deadline for meeting our demand does not get met, we file the suit. Promptly. Then we move forward.

Here, all we have is blather. Nothing that matters has happened. So, please, file already, or STFU!

(I’m not even going to talk about the reports about millions in fees, except to say “there’s no justification for millions being spent on attorneys to handle Boehner v. Obama.)

Fiction often informs us. Here’s Michael Douglas as President Andrew Shepard in The American President. The whole clip is worth watching, but I’m focused mostly at 2:00 and following.

Tomorrow, look for something much more mundane!

P.S.  Thanks to my friend Eddie Myers for calling me out for name calling. The piece has been cleaned up, and I apologize for the bad language.


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