What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Protecting Rights of Congressional Minorities : A procedural vote on a Republican motion to end a Democratic filibuster - extended debate -- and bring up for a vote a bill that would reform class action lawsuits by taking most class-action lawsuits out of the hands of state courts and giving jurisdiction instead to federal court. (2004 senate Roll Call 154)
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A procedural vote on a Republican motion to end a Democratic filibuster - extended debate -- and bring up for a vote a bill that would reform class action lawsuits by taking most class-action lawsuits out of the hands of state courts and giving jurisdiction instead to federal court.
senate Roll Call 154     Jul 08, 2004
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

Calling the GOP-backed "Class Action Fairness Act" (S. 2062) anything but fair, progressives in the Senate helped stave off a Republican motion that would have ended a Democratic filibuster - extended debate -- and brought up for a vote a bill progressives say effectively will rob injured citizens of their day in court. The GOP and a handful of Democratic supporters pushed hard for the class action reform measure, which is staunchly favored by businesses and corporations which say they are being sued out of existence. A "cloture" motion, which brings debate on the underlying bill to a close) filed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), meaning Democrats would be forced to vote without first being able to offer amendments to shape the bill. Democrats accused Frist of having engaged in a parliamentary technique known as "filling the tree" in which he offered several of his own amendments to the bill, leaving no space for bill opponents to offer their amendments. However, backers of the cloture petition, including Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), defended Frist's actions, noting that Democrats had failed to take Frist up on numerous unanimous consent offers that would have allowed certain of their amendments to be offered and were intent on loading up the bill with irrelevant "poison pill" amendments designed solely to bring down the legislation. Cloture motions to end debate require the approval of at least 60 senators, but the Republican petition mustered only 44 affirmative votes, with 43 senators voting against it. Opponents of the bill say it would aid corporate wrongdoers by taking most class-action lawsuits out of the hands of state courts -- which often award multimillion-dollar judgments -- and giving jurisdiction instead to federal courts believed by conservatives and the business community to be less likely to grant such sums. Class actions allow individual often non-wealthy plaintiffs with very small claims to band together to seek redress, making the expensive litigation process more affordable.

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