Sen. Biden and the trial lawyers

by Walter Olson on August 23, 2008

The Delaware senator tapped as Obama’s running mate has just announced that he’s giving away to charity campaign contributions from participants in the Scruggs scandal, no doubt preparing for scrutiny of a set of connections that have already gotten considerable attention in the blogosphere [ABA Journal, NMC @ Folo, YallPolitics, Lattman @ WSJ law blog, Rossmiller, our own mention]. Lotus @ Folo wonders if the McCain camp will risk bringing up Scruggsiana given their own candidate’s former dealings with the disgraced lawyer.

In 2005, Sen. Biden praised “bottom-feeders” (his term) in the legal profession, saying it was worth it to let them collect big fees “to stop bad guys from doing bad things”. In another account, the Senator “began pounding the table in opposition to the bill [Class Action Fairness Act] as he praised plaintiffs attorneys”. On Sen. Biden’s overall alignment with the general trial lawyer cause, see our earlier links here, here, and here.

Members of Biden’s family, including brother Jim Biden and son Joseph (“Beau”) Biden III, who serves as Delaware attorney general, have figured in many news stories about the senator’s connections with the practicing law world. The state of Delaware, renowned for the high caliber of its legal system, has lately attracted an influx of asbestos lawsuits filed on behalf of residents of other states, a trend criticized by guestblogger Steven Hantler (of the Chrysler Corporation) last year. Credit-card companies are a mainstay of the Delaware economy, and Marc Ambinder notes Biden’s having “pushed the bankruptcy bill that Dems now hate”.

Orin Kerr @ Volokh, who is from Delaware himself, likes the Senator.

More: Carter Wood @ PoL on the Senator’s rating of “zero” on legal reform as judged by NAM. See also Ted’s further post. Open Secrets covers the Senator’s campaign finance. And now, as Lotus @ Folo notes, the AP’s Pete Yost and Holbrook Mohr have jumped on the Mississippi connection.