Unspoken Truths and Misaligned Interests: Political Parties and the Two Cultures of Civil Litigation


During the last four decades the United States has witnessed first the emergence and then the disappearance of civil litigation as a topic of partisan debate in national politics. Following two centuries in which neither party thought the topic worth mentioning, in the last decades of the twentieth and the first decade of the twenty-first century, both parties made it part of their agendas. Republican candidates and presidents denounced litigation as a blight; Democratic candidates and presidents embraced it as a panacea. This Essay traces the emergence of this issue, the apparent oddness of the two parties’ stances toward it, and the ways in which both parties chose to ignore salient characteristics of modern civil litigation—the unspoken truths of my title. Finally, I tentatively suggest some reasons for the disappearance of this issue—at least temporarily—from the political scene.

About the Author

Stephen C. Yeazell is the David G. Price & Dallas P. Price Professor of Law Emeritus at UCLA School of Law.

By uclalaw