My latest Liability Outlook examines the problems of retroactive lawmaking and litigation, especially reviver statutes, and even Obama fans will find something to like:
The controversy over whether and how to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations at the Democratic National Convention shows the danger of changing rules midstream and upsetting settled expectations. Reviver statutes not only obviate statutes of limitations, which are a critical aid to justice, by “reviving” claims that have expired or never existed, but they can also pose the danger of undoing the benefits of future prospective legislation. In evaluating laws, the issue is not merely one of retroactivity, but of the importance of promoting legal certainty. For example, the FISA Amendments Act, S. 2248, while ostensibly acting retroactively to grant immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated with the Bush administration’s antiterror surveillance program, works to protect settled expectations.
Among matters discussed: litigation against the Catholic church over child abuse by priests and the Michigan legislature’s proposed retroactive repeal of pharmaceutical tort reform in H.R. 4045. Walter has previously discussed the subject.