A bill attacking the work the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic takes on in support of the state's indigent population was shut down by the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday. A bill attacking the work the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic takes on in support of the state's indigent population was shut down by the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday. Though its target was clearly Tulane, which has the state's only environmental clinic, the measure would have prevented LSU, Southern University and Loyola University's law clinics, all of which get state funding, from suing individuals and businesses for damages, taking government agencies to court or - with some exceptions - making constitutional challenges.
On a motion by the committee's chairwoman, New Orleans Democrat Ann Duplessis, Sen. Robert Adley's SB549 was deferred without opposition. Adley sponsored the bill at the request of the Louisiana Chemical Association, which has fought with Tulane's clinic for years.
Adley has been arguing that Tulane receives approximately $45 million in state money annually and uses those funds for a clinic he claims runs jobs out of the state by suing industry and government agencies. Wisely, Tulane University President Scott Cowen, who maintains that state money is not used for the law clinic, seized the opportunity to point out the absurdity of Adley's bill. The Advocate reports today:
Louisiana is dealing with one of the biggest environmental disasters ever in the Gulf of Mexico oil crisis, Cowen said, "and we're here arguing about cutting off (legal) access to people." ...
"This bill gives a black eye - a serious black eye for any industry that supports it," Cowen added.
Read The Advocate story here.