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Unelected judges replacing our government of we the people

Guest Commentary


Last updated 9/5/2019 at 1:55pm

I thought the court decisions against the makers of Roundup were over the top, but I was absolutely astounded at the recent ruling against Johnson & Johnson. These judgments are not only out of line, but tend to spawn even more outrageous claims in the hope that money will rain down on litigants and their lawyers.

World health agencies have repeatedly stated Roundup is not a threat, with one lone exception that said the active ingredient in Roundup (glyphosate) might contribute to cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emphatically maintains their position that products containing glyphosate pose no threat to public health and refused California’s petition to put warning labels on Roundup. Despite the science, a federal court awarded $2 billion to a couple who used Roundup on their yard. Fueled by successful suits, hundreds of “victims” have come forward seeking damages.

The recent judgment against Johnson & Johnson will undoubtedly open the flood gates for litigation against manufacturers of pain killers. The state of Oklahoma was awarded $572 million to combat the opioid epidemic. Mike Hunter, Oklahoma Attorney General, claimed Johnson & Johnson was guilty of “aggressively marketing painkillers.” He argues that babies born addicted to opioids need help. I don’t doubt that, but I don’t see how it can be the fault of the manufacturer. I can place fault on the user, or on the doctor, but not the manufacturer.

Johnson & Johnson produce a legal product fulfilling a valid medical requirement. If their product is to be blamed for addiction, it should be banned.

I had a knee operation a few years ago that turned septic. I battled infection for months. Doctors prescribed anything that would control the pain. When the infection and pain subsided, I stopped the painkillers and experienced withdrawal symptoms. I don’t want to do that again, and haven’t taken painkillers since, but I understand the danger.

I can easily blame doctors for over prescribing opioids. I can just as easily blame individuals who put themselves and their unborn children at risk. Doctors who over prescribe and patients who over medicate generally have limited funds.

Pharmaceutical companies, on the other hand, are faceless sources of huge amounts of cash. The courts have taken it upon themselves to redistribute that cash. It doesn’t matter who is at fault. If a victim is presented to the courts along with a source of money, the courts too often simply redistribute the money. That isn’t their job.

The parade continues, however, with the state of North Carolina’s suit against the makers of e-cigarettes. The attorney general, Josh Stein, claims Phillip Morris intentionally targets children in their advertising. I foresee another few hundred million in damages. I’m not sure who the aggrieved party is in this case, but Phillip Morris has the resources to pay, and pay they will. But to whom? It seems cases no longer require a victim. I guess they will pay the state of North Carolina. Courts are no longer the bastion of blind justice.

Political parties have enlisted the courts to support their agendas. President Trump has been sued over 100 times since he took office. There are currently 16 states suing over funding for the wall. Another 13 states, led by our own Attorney General Bob Ferguson, are challenging the president’s immigration policies. The courts are being sucked into choosing sides in partisan politics. Closer to home, the legislature is suing the governor because he vetoed a bill. “Government of the people for the people” is being replaced by government of the courts by non-elected judges.

Frank Watson is a retired Air Force Colonel and long-time resident of Eastern Washington. He has been a free-lance columnist for over 19 years.


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