Monday, April 19, 2004

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Your critical reading assignment for today

First, read this New York Times story on NAFTA's tribunal system and their supposed encroachment on state judiciaries.

Then, read Brad DeLong's takedown of said article.


posted by Dan on 04.19.04 at 12:23 AM


Just read Brad's takedown. Wouldn't want to experience Missouri "justice" myself (not connected or rich enough).

posted by: ch2 on 04.19.04 at 12:23 AM [permalink]

Critical is an understatement!

posted by: Miles on 04.19.04 at 12:23 AM [permalink]

OK, I read them, and I'm not impressed by the "takedown." He strings together the cautionary quotes to make it look like the article as a whole is scaremongering, which is not at all the tone, and he overstates his case.

Specifically, DeLong repeatedly gripes that the article gives the impression that NAFTA tribunals are appellate courts. The article is certainly clumsy in its phrasing, calling the tribunals a "layer of review." But it also very clearly states -- twice -- that the U.S. and not the verdict-winner is on the hook for a tribunal award. DeLong himself finds no clearer way to express the relationship between tribunal case and court case than "review."

And calling it a layer of review is fair, as shown by the quote that ends the article: "It's rather shocking that the highest courts of the state and federal governments could have their judgments circumvented by these tribunals." Key word, "circumvented."

Remember, the point of a civil case is not just to give the plaintiff his money back, it's to remove ill-gotten gains from the defendant. If the defendant can get reimbursed w/ interest from the U.S. by a tribunal, then NAFTA turns the court from an instrument of justice into a hidden tax mechanism. Yes, that is shocking, and worth writing about.

posted by: mannyj on 04.19.04 at 12:23 AM [permalink]

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