Officially, Thompson and his aides declined to answer questions about his legal work on the grounds that he is not a declared candidate. Privately, his advisers said they are acutely aware that GOP opponents could try to paint Thompson as too liberal, based on his legal work, his support from the trial lawyers' lobby and his votes on liability legislation that conflicted with those of most Republicans.Thompson is probably a better federalist than any other conservative out there, including people like Grover Norquist. Don't get me wrong, Norquist is a conservative as they come, but he is not a federalist--meaning Norquist believes that matters that would be considered state issues should and must be solved at the federal level.
There will always be a concern that he wants to be the leader of the cobra party, and he was, for a while, a mongoose," said Grover Norquist, head of the Americans for Tax Reform, which supported tort reform and is influential in GOP circles. "He needs to articulate not where he was while practicing law under the tort laws at the time but where he think those laws should go now."
Thompson recently sought to head off attacks, posting a statement on a conservative blog explaining his opposition to federal limits on malpractice lawsuits by saying it is a matter best left to states.
Thompson did buck his party when it came to the Contract with America's tort reform items, but for a really good reason--tort reform is not a federal matter--unless you are dealing with federal torts. Most tort cases are state level law and the states should decide what is appropriate tort reform in their states. Imposing a federal cap on a state law dispute could arguably be unconstitutional, assuming a state wanted to fight the matter and is certainly a violation of the concepts of federalism.
Look, I think malpractice awards can be a little too high, but those are isolated cases. Not every malpractice claim ends in a multi-million dollar settlement or verdict. Most are settled for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think the cost of litigation is such that it drives malpractice insurance rates higher, which makes my visits to the doctor more expensive, which makes my health insurance coverage more expensive, which means I am losing money from my check. It is a vicious cycle, but it is a cycle that must be corrected by teh states and not the federal government.
Sen. Thompson, well done on this issue and let the GOP whine--at least under your vision there is still hope. With a Democrat in the White House, tort reform, even on teh state level, would be a dirty word.