Tobacco Suit Is Latest Abuse Of The Rule Of Law

Thursday, 9/23/99, p. A22
by Robert Bork
[continued from Index page back]

[Provided by Tobacco Daily News Summaries]
Writing in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, Robert Bork, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, criticized the Justice Department's lawsuit against the tobacco industry as fraudulent and argues that the "rule of law" will suffer as a result:

"The federal and the state suits suffer from the same defect, which ought to be fatal. All of these governments have known for more than 30 years that smoking creates health risks. Yet with that knowledge, they all permitted the sale of tobacco products and profited nicely, indeed enormously, from excise taxes. How can A tell B he may lawfully sell a product that A knows will cause injury and then sue B for the injury caused?

Maybe the people injured could sue B, or A as well, but the one party that should have no cause of action, no complaint whatever, is A.

In the case of tobacco, the people who smoked and were harmed should have no cause of action either. Governmental and private organizations for decades have been pounding the message that smoking is deadly; cigarettes even come with an explicit government warning.

Smokers are harassed in restaurants and expelled from their offices to catch pneumonia on the sidewalks. You cannot be sentient and unaware of the risks of smoking. . . . Law has been warped for political purposes repeatedly, and never more so than in this administration.

Is there no judge who will call this case what it is -- an intellectual sham and a misuse of the courts to accomplish through litigation what cannot be won through legislation?"

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