Joan Orie Melvin has what she calls a "record with regard to my judicial philosophy." She proudly defines herself by saying:
I am a strict constructionist. I believe in judicial restraint. The job of a judge is interpreting the law — not creating it. And never legislating from the bench. That’s why we have three separate, co-equal branches of government. Judges are not supposed to be legislators… I am a social and fiscal conservative.
However, more of her comments show that this "fiscal conservative" believes in the free market only when it is convenient to her political expediency. Because while she claims a hands-off approach to the law and to the marketplace, on certain issues she manages to eschew that philosophy.
“In the 1990s, attempts at tort reform were made by the legislature, especially in the medical malpractice area, with the [excessive] verdicts in Philadelphia,” Judge Orie Melvin said. “The Supreme Court, which was Democratic at the time, declared such laws unconstitutional.”
In the early 2000’s, rules specific only to citizens injured by medical malpractice were pushed through the legislature, and according to Judge Melvin:
“After those rules were enacted, a study one year later showed that malpractice cases in Philadelphia decreased by 50 percent and by 35 percent in Allegheny County. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had an impact on the economic climate in the state.”
It appears that Judge Melvin believes the role of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is to let the market take its own course, except in medical malpractice cases. But her politics demonstrate the absurdity of medical malpractice tort reform.
Essentially, Judge Melvin is promoting a medical market where doctors are not held accountable by the free market. While it seems clear that this "fiscal conservative" believes the government should stay out of the market, she is actually exposed as nothing more than a promoter of insurance companies’ big business wishes. She promotes a market place where insurance companies and doctors who make major medical mistakes will not be held accountable for these actions. This – according to free market ideology – will create a market saturated with bad doctors and bad medical care, all because the government wishes to infect the market with its protectionist policies.
While Judge Melvin may not believe in holding health care providers who negligently injury parties accountable, Pennsylvania’s citizens will have the duty to hold this judicial politician accountable for her positions. And it won’t be easy because the medical and insurance lobbying and political actions committees are sure to spread their enormous capital to a candidate who wants to allow them to escape responsibility regardless of their failures.