Is the GOP’s Big Tent Too Small

Is the GOP’s Big Tent Too Small

Mark lanier was beside himself. Last may also, a colleague despatched him a duplicate of a letter mailed out some weeks earlier via texas gop chairman tina j. Benkiser. In the letter, benkiser flung an impressive array of invectives in opposition to a class of human beings particularly near lanier’s coronary heart — trial legal professionals: rich non-public damage trial attorneys are slinging dust and jogging grimy, down-in-the-gutter campaigns in a desperate bid to reclaim the electricity they crave. … [they] are as sleazy as they are greedy … and they may be as ruthless as they're selfish. … they're a dangerous bunch of pathological liars, and congenital cheaters. They're cold and foxy, like a rattlesnake ready in the brush, equipped to strike as frequently as it takes to deliver down their prey. The letter didn’t consult with lanier, or his houston-based lanier law firm, by means of name, however it might as nicely have. Few trial lawyers have raised as many hackles in texas republican circles as mark lanier. Lanier is one of the kingdom’s most successful plaintiff ’s legal professionals. (his company is widely recognized for scoring nine-parent jury verdicts — in particular in asbestos cases.) he additionally happens to be a longtime republican. So while he finally obtained a copy of the benkiser letter, he couldn’t assist but take it in my opinion. “it was evidence of an image problem,” he says. “i thought: ‘this is pathetic. Trial attorneys need to have a notable photograph. We must be a mild set upon a hill that shines as a beacon in the night. And rather our photo shows that we wouldn’t even qualify to live in a dung heap.’” lanier says he first became privy to the trial lawyers’ photo problem final yr when he lobbied unsuccessfully in austin in opposition to the tort reform measure referred to as residence invoice four. To his dismay, he located that many republican legislators robotically disregarded him as a liberal democrat as quickly as they determined out he become a tribulation attorney. As a self-defined conservative, pro-lifestyles, evangelical christian, the “liberal democrat” label didn’t sit down well with him. The enjoy convinced him to create a brand new business enterprise — the christian trial lawyers affiliation (ctla). The ctla is a texas advent with countrywide aspirations. Lanier says its primary dreams are to help its contributors serve the network and toughen their faith, and to show the public that trial lawyers can be precise christians. Inside some months after its formation in early 2004, the organization had subsidized a sequence of prayer breakfasts, made preliminary plans for a continuing criminal schooling symposium, constructed an email referral network and established chapters in six states. “this is not a political creature,” lanier says. “it’s an association of court docket lawyers who share a christian faith.” however lanier’s warring parties in and out of the state republican birthday party laugh off the perception that the ctla is apolitical. “the trial attorneys [including those in the ctla] had been the greatest enemy of the republican party and our conservative values,” says texas gop spokesman ted royer. “they're making a concerted effort to infiltrate our celebration and take it over.” ken hoagland, of the advocacy organization texans for lawsuit reform, sees a further nefarious approach at work in the introduction of the ctla. “mark lanier has adopted the pose of a conservative republican a good way to extra correctly sabotage tort reform efforts,” he says. “he’s an asbestos lawyer, and there’s a quite unified opinion amongst most within the republican birthday party that asbestos litigation represents one of the worst abuses of the civil justice device.” even as lanier recognizes that he has hostile and could preserve to oppose rules that restricts his ability to win large awards for his clients, he insists that his fighters are wrong to anticipate that the organization he created — the ctla — is a trojan horse despatched thru the gates of an unsuspecting republican celebration. “that can be their perspective, however it’s simply not genuine,” he says. “i might urge them to examine our membership list and spot how many elected republicans are individuals. The ctla isn't approximately politics regardless of what they think.” inside the period in-between, lanier remains dedicated to building an agency that might rehabilitate trial legal professionals’ tarnished photo. “we’re letting the public see that there are christian trial legal professionals obtainable who're unique, who need to no longer be painted with the same brush,” he says. “my religion is not some thing that i just placed on for comfort to try to help my prison exercise. This is my life.”