American Madness

Intelligent Criticism in the Service of a Better Nation




State Legislatures Seek to Legally Insulate the Pollutors of America

Posted by Joel Friedlander | No Comments

When I was in law school we were all required to work at a law firm, or at a public legal services organization so that we could have a hands on experience in the practice of law.  One semester I worked for a condemnation law firm, which was a busy place at the time, because the City of New York had great plans for the expansion of the area in Brooklyn near the Atlantic Terminal and was condemning many properties.

The lawyer I worked for represented the owners of the condemned property who were usually being cheated on the compensation for their land.  It was a job that taught me that the City is out to screw its citizens financially whenever possible in the area of condemnation.

Another semester I worked for Community Action for Legal Services, which was a government sponsored series of groups that represented the indigent in their legal problems.  This group attacked injustice whenever it was found, and allowed its student interns to represent the poor in a rather expansive way in human rights cases. The program was canceled by President Reagan some years after my involvement because he felt that it was attacking business and hurting the economy.  His concern for the well being of the least prosperous among us is the reason why I often call him Saint Ronald.

There is a Lubavich theory that when a person has some virtues, but they are far outweighed by the evil in their soul and their behavior. Heaven rewards them fully in this life. The corollary to this theory is that they will receive no reward at all in the next one. I know that the anti deists among you will laugh at that one.

Today, the representation of the needy has been taken over by the Law Schools, which are
trying to teach a sense of social responsibility to their students and at the same time providing a service to those in severe need. Of course they are being attacked by various States, which are not interested in protecting anything but their industries, albeit those industries that are poisoning their air, soil, water and their souls.  This story is presented in the New York Times in “Law School Clinics Face a Backlash,” by Ian Urbina.

The law schools, which are often tax exempt and accept State and Federal Funding are now targets for state legislatures that are interested in protecting local industries, even if those industries pollute the environment and are inhumane in their practices. 

Actions against law schools are being taken in the States of Maryland, New Jersey, Michigan, Missouri, & Louisiana.  Ibid. You can be sure that the legislators in those states are getting plenty of money from the representatives of those industries. Purdue, in particular, has been crying that regulation of their industry, in which their company dictates every element of how the chicken farmers raise their product, would decimate the small farmer, even though the small farmer is already a slave to the requirements of Purdue.

We are in bad times and there is no interest in helping the poor to survive at the state level, other than to give them increasingly smaller handouts, a practice made respectable by President Bill Clinton’s welfare “reforms.” In connection with the issue of how chickens are produced in the United States, please see, “Food, Inc.” by Robert Kenner.

I think that one of the participants in the fight says it best (from the NYTimes article):

[I]n Maryland, Rena Steinzor, a law professor at the University of Maryland and a former director of the environmental law clinic there, rejected the idea that law clinics in her state or elsewhere were trying to harm industry. “The clinics represent people or groups that can’t otherwise afford lawyers and, by definition, this work often puts the clinics on the opposite side of the government or powerful interests,” she said.” 

Isn’t that what law schools are supposed to do?

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