Tracking Congress’ Attacks on Access to Justice
The courts provide a means for people and communities to hold wealthy corporations accountable, and serve as an important check on the power of Congress and the executive branch.
In the past year, the 115th Congress has introduced more than 50 pieces of legislation that would restrict people’s ability to use the courts to defend civil rights, civil liberties, consumer protections, public health and safety, and the environment.
Each of these more than 50 bills contain provisions that present one or more threats to access to justice:
- Limiting Judicial Discretion: Forcing judges to issue sanctions and limiting the power of courts to effectively redress injuries. (See analysis.)
- Meddling with Settlements: Undermining the government’s ability to reach timely and meaningful case settlements. (See analysis.)
- No Judicial Review: Making the courts off-limits with “no judicial review” clauses, eroding the role of courts to hear challenges to certain government actions. (See analysis.)
- Stripping an Individual’s Right to Sue: Including expanding the use of forced arbitration and/or restricting people’s ability to band together to bring class action lawsuits. (See analysis.)
- Too Risky / Expensive to Sue: Making public interest litigation too risky or too expensive to pursue by eliminating attorneys’ fees awards in cases against the government and implementing “loser pays” provisions. (See analysis.)
Without urgent action, these efforts will erect permanent obstacles that will keep people and communities from going to court to defend their rights, their lives, their livelihoods, and the places they love.
Learn about these threats at Earthjustice's in-depth report, Access to Justice: Defending Our Country And Our Courts, and about the stories of people who faced off against rich and powerful special interest groups and were able to beat the odds—because they were able to get into court.