Senate Judiciary Examines Big Government Lawsuits

By Bruce Sullivan | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

Washington ( - In response to what he called "a growing tendency of the courts to set policy instead of elected legislators," Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) held a hearing Tuesday to examine federal lawsuits against the tobacco industry and gun manufacturers.

Hatch said he is concerned other industries such as pharmaceuticals, automobiles, fast-food and beverage-alcohol may soon be targeted by the Justice Department for similar litigation. "The scope of these lawsuits are immense," Hatch said in his opening statement. "The courts indeed have never been considered the proper institution to determine policy," he added referring to Federalist Paper #78 by Alexander Hamilton.

Under the Clinton Administration, the Department of Justice has pursued lawsuits against companies as diverse as tobacco, gun and computer makers to bring about regulations that Congress was unwilling to pass. Hatch said that right belongs to the elected Members of Congress.

- more to follow -