If the Fat Suit Fits

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New at Reason: Is the pleasure of seeing attorney John Banzhaf hoist on his carb-loaded, polyunsaturated petard worth the price of another federal pre-emption of state and individual rights? Jacob Sullum weighs the arguments over fat lawsuits.

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  1. Here’s a better idea.

    Similar to the amusement park roller-coaster screening device that declares that patrons “MUST BE –> THIS TALL TO RIDE”, fast food restaurants can just put a weigh scale in front of the cash register and decline to serve obese people… for their own safety, of course.

    I’d like to see the resulting howls of indignation.

  2. How about a “Personal Responsibility in America Act” and leave it at that?

  3. The clerks can just point to the sign that says:

    Federal Law prohibits this establishment from serving VOPs–Visibly Obese People.
    If you look like you are over 185 pounds of weight, we have to card you. Hey, its the law! 🙂

  4. The clerks can just point to the sign that says:

    Federal Law prohibits this establishment from serving VOPs–Visibly Obese People.
    If you look like you are over 185 pounds of weight, we have to card you. Hey, it’s the law! 🙂

  5. Sorry for the double post–I was simply appalled that I had misspelled “it’s.” Rather quaint in this day and age, eh?

  6. Jacob Sullum correctly points out that Federalism is a two way street. If state courts view themselves as vehicles for national legislation via lawsuits, then the Federal government can legitimate step in to restore the traditional balance.

    Seems to be a lot of this going on, novel legal theory or action that requires new legislation to restore the previous status quo. Be nice to return to the days when the courts where the most conservative branch of the government.

  7. And herein lies the strongest rationale for congressional intervention, even if it means telling state courts which lawsuits they may hear?a prospect that should make federalists uncomfortable. The agreement that settled the state tobacco lawsuits in effect imposed a nationwide tax and nationwide regulations, including advertising restrictions that would have been unconstitutional if imposed by statute, without approval from Congress or any state legislature. A similar arrangement with food companies (or gun manufacturers, the concern of the other NRA) likewise would usurp the authority of state and federal legislators.

    That’s the best libertarian defense of the Supreme Court’s Commerce Clause jurisprudence I’ve heard to date.

  8. Simply Put says:
    “How about a “Personal Responsibility in America Act” and leave it at that?”

    Sorry, but it’s too late. That philosophy is all but dead in this country. What passed as satire only a few years ago is now established fact. Where I live it is now illegal to smoke, outdoors, in a park. Evidently the squirrels cannot handle the massive plums of second-hand smoke inundating their treetop dwellings.

  9. > exit poll in 2000 asked Nader voters what they would have done had Nader not been on the ballot. Thirty percent of his supporters said they would not have voted at all. The rest said they would have voted for Gore over George W. Bush, by a ratio of better than 2-to-1 (48 percent to 22 percent).

  10. Get this. The Bush administration stuck its big fat nose into this mess. The FDA’s Obesity Working Group (is everyone in the group trim and fit?) has announced that it plans to take action on behalf of American fatties.

    You can review the list here.

    My two favorite items from the article.

    1) An item on the Fat Group’s list is “Encouraging restaurants to include and emphasize nutritional information.” What if they don’t want to? Come on, let’s see the fine print.

    2) Tom Harkin: “More aggressive steps to curb obesity and give consumers the tools to make healthy decisions are necessary to address this growing crisis.” (emphasis mine)

    “More aggressive steps” coming out of a big-government warrior’s mouth? How shocking. But better is that Harkin is too stupid to realize his own pun. Growing crisis, indeed.

  11. {Before Congress passes legislation like this, Banzhaf said, “there should be a real history which must be corrected, not orchestrated panic based upon one failed lawsuit and some quoted-out-of-context rhetoric.”}

    IOW if one person gets fat then lawsuits should shut down the entire fast food industry; but for anti-lawsuit legislation “there should be a real history of abuse.”

    Do as I say, don’t do as I do.

    Just think. I used to say, “Smoking lawsuits are going to lead to gun lawsuits are going to lead to fast food lawsuits are going to lead to…” and get called “paranoid.”

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