Focus Point - A Liberal Shoots Down Gunmaker LawsuitsCommentary by Pete du Pont
January 26, 2000
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Critics of government lawsuits against tobacco companies and gunmakers have picked up a surprising ally: former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich. He says his former boss is making -- his words -- blatant end runs around the democratic process.
The administration's using a law designed to get mobsters -- the Rico act -- to attack tobacco companies. It's using the department of housing and urban development as a screen to sue gun makers. Both, Reich says, novel legal theories (that's putting it mildly) that let the government, well, cheat -- that's my word.
Reich's warning is aimed at other liberals. You may like the outcomes in these cases, he says, but they establish a precedent for other cases you might find wildly unjust. If it's easy to use Rico statutes against tobacco companies, how about civil rights organizations? Poverty groups? Environmental activists? If you can send hud after gun companies, why not sic the FBI on the ACLU?
What goes around, comes around.
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas -- even from former foes -- can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, the truth on trade.