COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today stressed the need for the federal government and South Carolina to take the necessary steps to help end frivolous lawsuits clogging our court system.
“Our federal and state legal system generally serves us very well,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “However, we have come to the point where reform is necessary.”
Graham noted that on the federal level he introduced “Loser Pays” legislation along with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and John Cornyn (R-Texas). The legislation establishes a set of guidelines under which the loser of a lawsuit in federal court could be required to pay the winner’s attorney fees. It applies to cases in which the parties are from different states, which are the large majority of cases in federal court.
In order to receive compensation for attorneys’ fees, the wining side must have made a settlement offer that was rejected, and then file a petition with the judge requesting compensation. The judge will make the final determination.
“The right to a jury trial is one of the key building blocks of our democracy and should be jealously guarded,” said Graham. “However, I do not believe that the constitution requires nor does justice dictate that in our legal system only one party should bear the burden and the risk.
“Loser Pays does more to stop frivolous lawsuits in the federal court system than any other reform,” said Graham. “Litigation designed to shake someone down for a settlement would be far less frequent if each party had something to lose.”
Graham noted he often finds himself at odds with his party leadership when it comes to overriding state tort reform laws.
“As a conservative, I strongly believe states should have control over their legal systems and be allowed to pursue their own reforms without Big Brother in Washington mandating outcomes,” said Graham. “I am encouraged by efforts to reform South Carolina’s legal system and remain confident that our state can chart its own course without interference from Washington.”
Graham said he is also strongly urging the South Carolina General Assembly to consider a “Loser Pays” rule as part of litigation reform.
“We have the opportunity in South Carolina to be on the leading edge of legal reform, particularly in medical malpractice,” said Graham. “The arbitration panel with physician involvement and the requirement to arbitrate medical claims, as proposed by the General Assembly, will do much to reduce courtroom litigation.”
“I strongly encourage the General Assembly to consider a Loser Pays rule at the state level,” said Graham. “Loser Pays, applied to either party that refuses to go to arbitration, is a strong filtering device against frivolous lawsuits and those who unjustly fail to settle meritorious claims.”
“If South Carolina adopts arbitration and Loser Pays, it will be among the first jurisdictions in the country to combine these legal reforms,” said Graham. “Loser Pays will strengthen the reform legislation and will pay great dividends in the future.”
“Governor Sanford’s support for arbitration and Loser Pays is another example of bringing about much-need reforms,” said Graham. “He is working to reshape our legal system in a manner consistent with all of his efforts to move our state forward.”
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he was very pleased the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation protecting the unborn from acts of violence.
The unborn protection legislation, twice introduced by Graham while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and passed by that body in a bipartisan manner, has never been debated or voted on in the U.S. Senate.
The Senate is expected to take up the bill for the first time in March.
“It’s time for the Senate to take up this important protection for pregnant mothers and unborn children,” said Graham. “I think, regardless of pro-life or pro-choice feelings, that most Americans want to protect the unborn from violence by criminals,” said Graham. “When a woman chooses to have her child, a criminal should not take that away from her.”
Under current federal law, an individual who commits a federal crime of violence against a pregnant woman receives no additional punishment for killing or injuring the woman’s unborn child. Under the Unborn Victim of Violence Act (UVVA), if an unborn child is injured or killed during the commission of an already-defined federal crime of violence, the assailant could be charged with a separate offense on behalf of the unborn child.
The UVVA would apply this principle to over 60 existing federal laws dealing with acts of violence. These federal laws affect federal geographical jurisdictions, the military justice system, protection of federal officials, and specific acts defined by law as federal crimes.
As an example, Graham noted a situation where a pregnant woman visiting Capitol Hill is assaulted and loses her unborn child. Since the Capitol is under federal jurisdiction and there is currently no law on the federal books, the assailant could only be held accountable for the crime against the mother. The assailant would face no charge or receive no punishment for the harm done to the unborn child.
“I believe most Americans want to protect life as much as possible," said Graham. “People who want to turn this into an abortion debate have an irrational view. The purpose of this bill is very simple: Once the woman chooses to have the child and someone takes that child away from her through an assault or an act of violence, we want to put them in jail for the damage done to the unborn child.”
The UVVA specifically exempts abortions from the list of prosecutable offenses. The bill does not permit prosecution: (1) for conduct relating to an abortion for which the consent of the pregnant woman has been obtained or for which consent is implied by law in a medical emergency; (2) for conduct relating to any medical treatment of the pregnant woman or her unborn child; or (3) of any woman with respect to her unborn child.
“There is a bipartisan majority in the U.S. House of Representatives committed to closing this scandalous gap in federal law,” said Graham. “I think it shows the bill isn’t about abortion but holding criminals accountable for their actions and protecting pregnant women to the fullest extent of the law.”
President Bush has said he will sign the measure into law if it passes Congress.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he supports President Bush’s call for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.
“I applaud the President’s announcement that he will support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “A constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman is necessary and something I support. The traditional institution of marriage is now under attack.”
“The recent Massachusetts Supreme Court decision, as well as actions in San Francisco, set in motion legal events that can only be adequately addressed by a constitutional amendment,” said Graham. “If we don’t act, it’s only a matter of time until marriage as we have known it will be redefined.”
“Defining marriage as being between a man and a woman should be an issue for the public at large, through their elected representatives, to decide,” said Graham. “It should not be decided by a handful of judges and the city of San Francisco and then forced upon the rest of the country.”
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement regarding President Bush’s decision to make a recess appointment of Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“I applaud the President’s decision to appoint Bill Pryor to the federal bench. He has been an outstanding Attorney General in Alabama, and has demonstrated a willingness to take on politically unpopular causes because the law requires it. He will be a judge who follows the law, not a personal agenda.”
“The attacks levied against him have been politically motivated and are demagoguery at its worst. Pryor’s “well-qualified” rating by the American Bar Association and strong support from people throughout the state of Alabama illustrate his true qualities as a person and his skills as an attorney.”
“President Bush’s decision demonstrates that he will not allow his judicial nominees to be demagogued and destroyed.”
Bush originally nominated Pryor in April 2003, but his confirmation has been held up by Senate Democrats with unprecedented judicial filibusters. In addition to Pryor, Democrats have blocked the confirmation of five other federal judicial nominees.
“The partisan filibusters of judges driven by liberal special interest politics will put the Senate in a death spiral with regard to judicial nominations. If our Democratic colleagues do not cease in partisan filibusters of well-qualified nominees there will be a confrontation in the Senate of Constitutional dimensions that will take years to overcome.”
The recess appointment will enable Pryor to serve through the end of the first session of the 109th Congress.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said he was pleased to hear that Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham has written to the Chairman and ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee certifying the MOX fuel fabrication facility to be constructed at Savannah River Site is still on track to convert weapons-grate plutonium into commercial nuclear fuel by January 2009.
The written certification to Congress was one of the requirements that Graham, while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, and former U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond pushed into law in December 2002.
The Thurmond-Graham language also included fines of up to $100 million a year if plutonium is not being converted to fuel under strict timelines and a legal requirement to remove plutonium from the state should the program fail.
“I’m very pleased with the Secretary’s certification,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “This is an important program, taking the weapons of the Cold War and turning them into fuel to make electricity. I have confidence that the Bush White House will continue to work with us to ensure this program is a success.
“Certification was one of the important provisions the Thurmond-Graham legislation contained to protect the state,” said Graham. “I’m glad we passed it into law as it gives us protection from program failure and also serves as a valuable tool to help keep pushing the program along.”
In his letter, Abraham noted the U.S. and Russian Federation have disagreed on liability provisions for work done in Russia on the MOX fabrication facility. The disagreement has resulted in the interruption of work in Russia and slowed work in the U.S. as the programs are to proceed in “rough parallel.”
“We are determined to resolve this issue in time to prevent slippages that will prevent us from meeting our 2009 commitments,” wrote Abraham. “While the start of construction will be delayed due to our ongoing disagreement with Russia regarding liability, we are confident that we will be able to meet overall program objectives – the elimination of weapon-grade plutonium for thousands of nuclear weapons.”
Graham noted he has recently spoken with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and other key parties handling negotiations with the Russian Federation over the liability provisions.
“We’re going to get a deal, it’s just a matter of time” said Graham. “Everyone understands the importance of this program to world security and knows there’s a lot at stake. The quicker we can get agreement the quicker we can move both the U.S. and Russian programs forward.”
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced an $86,670 grant to North Augusta Department of Public Safety.
“Firefighters risk their lives to protect others, and they deserve the best equipment and training available,” said Graham. “Firefighters are some of the heroes in our midst.”
Assistance to Firefighters Grants help the fire departments improve their training, wellness and fitness programs; purchase new firefighting equipment and personal protective equipment; and, make modifications to fire stations and facilities.
The Assistance to Firefighters grant program awards one-year grants directly to local fire departments, enhancing their ability to respond to fire and fire-related hazards in the community. The program supports departments by providing them the tools and resources necessary to protect the health and safety of the public and their firefighting personnel.
Grantees share in the cost of the funded project at a percentage based on the population of their respective jurisdiction. Grantees that serve jurisdictions of 50,000 or fewer residents are required to provide a non-Federal cost-share of 10 percent while grantees that serve jurisdictions of over 50,000 provide a 30 percent cost-share. The match must be in cash without the use of in-kind contributions. In addition, the maximum amount of federal funds that an applicant can be awarded is $750,000 during any fiscal year.
The grants are made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and U.S. Representative Gresham Barrett (R-South Carolina) today announced Westminster will receive $1.6 million in federal funds for water system improvements.
The money will be used for water treatment plant upgrades and construction of a new elevated 500,000 gallon tank.
“This is great news for Westminster,” said Graham. “Infrastructure improvements create jobs, encourage business investment, and play a vital role in future economic development.”
"This is terrific news. There is no doubt this funding will help improve the infrastructure of my hometown," said Barrett. "Westminster has a lot to offer and it is my hope these improvements will help attract new businesses and bring new jobs to the area."
Of the total project award, a $1 million grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce and a $600,000 grant was awarded by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) released the following statement on his decision to vote against S. 1072 the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003:
“My decision to vote ‘no’ on the highway bill was motivated by the fact that it busts the budget by billions of dollars, and will lead to larger deficits that our children and grandchildren will have to pay. Unfortunately, this is a continuation of the freewheeling spending practices we were elected to reign in.”
“The highway and bridge needs of this country are very real. However, the federal government cannot afford a 43 percent increase in spending no matter how meritorious the projects may be. The 43 percent increase more than doubles the President’s request and is way out of line with any notion of fiscal responsibility.”
“I know South Carolinians can use help in upgrading our infrastructure. But, our economy needs fiscal discipline more than new pet projects. Businesses and families have to make hard choices in difficult times, yet the Senate seems to be unwilling or incapable of doing the same.”
“I hope President Bush vetoes this bill if it is not corrected in a conference between the House and Senate. If he does so, I will support his veto.”
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced Dillon County will receive a $25,000 federal grant for a feasibility study on construction of a new general aviation airport.
The feasibility study will include a business recruitment strategy, leasing plan, identification of incentives, and a financial feasibility plan.
“Community airports play a vital role in growing the local economy by making the area more attractive for economic development and business recruitment,” said Graham.
The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce and will be matched by a $25,000 local contribution.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senators Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) introduced legislation enabling the Federal Communications Commission to increase tenfold the fine on television and radio broadcasters who violate the FCC decency rules.
The Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004 increases the maximum fine for each violation to $275,000 and the total penalty for continued violations could be as much as $3 million. Current law caps penalties at $27,500 per offense.
“For many years, I have been a proponent of ensuring that the content released on our nation’s airwaves is free from indecent and inappropriate material,” said Brownback, “Recently, much attention has been given to the FCC and the enforcement of its indecency rules regarding this issue due to a particular expletive used during the live broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards ceremony last year and compounded by the inappropriate Super Bowl Half Time show. This bill will increase, by tenfold, the forfeiture penalties for broadcasting obscenity, indecency or profanity. This will increase the penalties for a single obscene or indecent incident from $27,500 to $275,000. Until the penalties are punitive, there will be little incentive for broadcasters to curb this inappropriate behavior.”
Brownback is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and serves on the Communications Subcommittee.
“We need to make sure broadcasters air appropriate programming, especially when children are likely to be in the audience,” said Graham. “For too long we have stood on the sidelines and let indecent programming get out of hand. We need to do more to protect the public from indecent programming and this bill will cause broadcasters to think twice before allowing indecent materials on the airwaves. The current penalty is a mere slap on the wrist. It’s time we put a little more sting into the punishment.”
Graham testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Commerce in support of the increased penalties.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. A similar bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last month. Additional Senate sponsors of the bill include Senators George Allen (R-Virginia), Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).
The legislation has garnered support from the administration, commissioners at the FCC, and family groups such as Focus on the Family.