GOP capitalizes on Trump admin to push legal reform bills

E & E News
Friday, July 28, 2017

Republicans are taking advantage of a new administration that's likely to be friendlier to their efforts to push a number of bills aimed at reforming the legal system.

Much of the push has taken place in the House Judiciary Committee. The panel has held a number of hearings on the subject and approved several bills that would spell big changes in how lawsuits are brought and resolved, and in the amount of money that attorneys can recover.

But outside of Judiciary, conservative lawmakers in both chambers have also introduced bills targeting specific issues in the environmental arena, such as endangered species and clean water. Many would altogether block judicial review of controversial agency actions.…

Last week, the group registered as a lobbying organization and listed on H.R. 3131, a bill by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) that would adjust hourly attorneys' fees in Endangered Species Act litigation (Greenwire, July 25).

Joanne Doroshow, who heads the Center for Justice and Democracy at New York Law School, said that groups should pay attention not only to bills in the environmental arena but in other issue areas — such as efforts to kill a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule that makes it easier to bring class lawsuits against banks — because it's a "slippery slope."

"Congress sometimes just tries to get its foot in the door in a certain issue area, establish precedent and then do more damage to the laws that exist," Doroshow said. "So it's a dangerous thing to establish any kind of precedent."

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