Arnold's personal love of
lawsuits clashed yesterday with his efforts to limit consumers' legal
rights when the gov announced his endorsement of legislation that
attacked consumer protection laws.
It was especially odd because the endorsement of AB 1505 (Parra) was a
departure from his office's usual legislative playbook, which typically
refuses to comment on pending legislation until it reaches his desk.
Arnold has threatened litigation -- and often brought suit for huge
damages -- against anyone who uses his image, even when that use is
protected political satire. (See Arnold's challenge to the maker of my
favorite doll, the bobble-headed Governor Girlie Man).
But Arnold's personal appreciation of the value of the courts hasn't
put a dent in his rhetoric against 'frivolous' lawsuits. He's taken a
stand for his corporate contributors, many of whom have also been held
accountable under consumer protection laws in California.
Proponents of the bill claimed it targets frivolous litigation but
protects legitimate consumer suits. This same promise was made by the
same companies in 2004 when they were backing Proposition 64. But big
business revealed that initiative's true target as soon as it was
enacted with immediate challenges to legitimate consumer protection
cases using Prop. 64.
The cases challenged under Prop. 64 included public interest actions to
stop invasion of medical privacy, disabled access barriers, dangerous
drugs, unfair cell phone billing, false advertising, elder abuse and
public health threats.
AB 1505 plays the same masquerade: big business makes hyperbolic claims
about abuse of the legal system to roll back legal rights and decimate
consumer protection cases.
The bill was killed in committee this morning, giving us even more
reason to wonder why Schwarzenegger, who placed winning above most
everything after his devastating 2005 special election defeat, broke
with tradition to hitch himself to a falling star.