So, let me see if I got that right.
Law schools across the country operate student clinics where law students gain practice and experience as they study.
A while back, one such clinic at the University of Maryland was presented with a black and white case: a law had been broken (and was continuously violated for more than a decade): Perdue and its chicken growers were polluting the Chesapeake Bay in flagrant violation of environmental regulations.
Accepting the case, the clinic filed a suit against Perdue to challenge their damaging violations.
As a result, the legal clinic – not Perdue – was nearly shut down after Jim Perdue himself headed to Annapolis to introduce legal measures to eliminate funding for the law school program, ultimately challenging their ability to provide the 110,000 hours of free legal services to the community for violence and crime prevention, social work and public service.
According to the New York Times, student law clinics at other universities are facing similar challenges:
In Louisiana, the Legislature is considering a bill forbidding law students at clinics that receive any public money from suing government agencies, companies or individuals for damages unless exempted by the Legislature. [In] response to a suit brought by the Tulane Law School clinic on behalf of an environmental group against federal and state environmental regulators, seeking greater enforcement of air quality standards in the Baton Rouge area.“There is no reason that tax money should pay for these law students to act like regulators,” said State Senator Robert Adley, a Republican who submitted the bill in response to a request from his state’s oil and gas industry.
Yeah, as if there’d be a need for such law suits if A) Corporations abided by laws, regulations and standards, or B) The regulators regulated (here’s looking at you Senator Adley).
Similar stories continue to crop up across the country. And while any one taken alone plainly demonstrates ridiculous self-serving corporate behavior, together these examples call into question greater concerns about the tremendous influence corporations wield over our political systems, the systems and processes for accountability and reparation when corporations violate laws, and, ultimately, the ability of the public to defend their own rights against competing corporate interests.
Photo: Pesticide Action Network