Thursday, September 2, 2010

Barnes: Don't Monkey with Constitution

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Democrat Roy Barnes and Republican Nathan Deal squared off Saturday afternoon in their first gubernatorial debate, sponsored by the Medical Association of Georgia and other medical groups, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

The candidates discussed topics including health care, taxes and the state's water crisis in front of an audience of roughly 100 people, including doctors and their campaign supporters. Libertarian candidate John Monds of Cairo also shared the stage.

The two major candidates differed when asked their response to a Georgia Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that struck down a cap in pain and suffering damages awarded by juries in medical malpractice cases. Republicans have long argued that tort reform is needed to protect doctors from frivolous and costly lawsuits.

Barnes said that jurors are smart enough to award proper damages and that judges should be allowed to intervene in the rare instances in which they go overboard. Deal said he is in favor of reinstating the limits with a state constitutional amendment.

"What we know is that the tort reform that was put in place by the General Assembly had very positive effects of bringing people into the medical profession, into our state; keeping some who were already here who might have otherwise migrated to other states," said Deal.

"I do not like to monkey with the constitution," Barnes responded.

"I find it somewhat ironic that we say that jurors - drawn from registered voter rolls - don't have enough sense to decide a case of damages. But, they do have enough sense to decide who's president, governor or even who has the very breath of life taken from them in a criminal case."

Read more: Cherokee Tribune - Barnes Don t monkey with Constitution
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