What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : Equal Access to Justice : S. 5. Class-Action Lawsuits/Vote to Defeat an Amendment to Impose a 60-Day Limit for Federal District Courts to Decide If They Will Return a Case Back to State Court. (2005 senate Roll Call 8)
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S. 5. Class-Action Lawsuits/Vote to Defeat an Amendment to Impose a 60-Day Limit for Federal District Courts to Decide If They Will Return a Case Back to State Court.
senate Roll Call 8     Feb 10, 2005
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

In this vote, the Senate defeated an amendment by Russ Feingold (D-WI) to S. 5, a bill to move many multistate, class-action consumer lawsuits (multiple claims from various lawsuits with parties in more than one state combined into one, larger lawsuit) from state to federal courts. Procedure in federal courts is generally considered less friendly to consumers bringing suits than in state courts; specifically, some state courts are viewed as more likely to award very large sums of money to successful plaintiffs (those who bring the suit) than federal courts. Because the procedures for determining whether a case ought to be heard in federal or state court can often drag on for an indeterminate amount of time, Feingold introduced this amendment to impose a 60-day limit for federal district courts to decide if they will remand (return) a case back to a state court. Progressives argued that this amendment would promote certainty for parties to lawsuits and ensure that "justice delayed [would not be] justice denied." (Feingold.) Republicans and a number of other Democrats, however, cited opposition by The Judicial Conference of the United States (the body that makes policy for the federal courts) as part of their assertions that such interference in the management of cases would make it difficult for courts to manage their own caseloads based on the needs and circumstances that exist in any given court at any given time. In addition, opponents accused Progressives-with this and other amendments-of trying to attach provisions to the bill which would ultimately result in the bill's death. They expressed fear that if the Senate were to pass a bill that included any amendments at all, then a conference between the House-which had already passed its own version of the bill-and the Senate would be necessary to reconcile the two versions of the bill, and due to the compromises that had already been struck to pass a bill in the House, the conference would fail and the legislation would die. The Senate defeated the Feingold Amendment by a vote of 37 to 61; thus, the uncertainty factor for parties caught in these types of legal, procedural decisions was left in the bill.

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