Camp Lejeune Bill Is Unpatriotic, Unfair To Taxpayers

By John J. Duncan Jr.

I am sick and tired of all the ads some lawyers are running hoping to get rich off of the so-called Camp Lejeune Justice Act.

The bill could end up being called the Unfair To Taxpayers Bill. Congress has passed many bad bills over the years, but this may be one of the worst.

The Camp Lejeune legislation was the most significant and probably the most expensive part of a bill called the Honor Our Pact Act.

Congress has for many years put motherhood and apple pie titles on every bill making it politically dangerous to vote against anything.

Only about 17% of the present Congress has ever served in any branch of the military, and most are afraid to vote against anything that is supposedly for veterans.

But the publication Consumer Notice carried an article this past August which said, “The Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of the PACT Act at almost $300 billion.” Consumer Notice described the bill as “an unprecedented expansion of health care benefits and more inclusive disability compensation for veterans.”

However, we were already doing many times more for veterans than any other country. No other nation even comes close. And with a national debt of over $31 trillion, it is unpatriotic to keep passing bills we cannot afford.

My office always emphasized helping veterans, and Jenny Stansberry, who worked for me my entire 30 years in Congress, was the best in the country on this. I am proud of my own military service and appreciate veterans as much as anyone. But this bill is as much for lawyers as it is for this one group of veterans.

A Maryland personal injury firm wrote on Sept. 19th that Camp Lejeune lawyers were estimating that half a million cases would be filed on this law but “over 100,000 to 200,000 is our current estimate.”

One of the many thousands of ads says over one million people were injured by the Lejeune water. And cases are being filed not only for veterans but also for family members and as wrongful death cases for the estates of the deceased.

A biologist, Dr. Daniel Sterbuleac, wrote an article published on Oct. 29th which said, “The air around us has quadrillions of bacteria and viruses; millions of them floating in each cubic meter.” He wrote that we breathe in many thousands of viruses every minute, but we get very few infections “thanks to the immune system.”

Any well-organized group could find many scientists that would say that practically everything we eat or drink is toxic and harmful. Similar lawsuits could probably be filed about the water at every military base or even in just about every city.

But this Lejeune bill sets up a rigged system in favor of the lawyers and their clients. I doubt any will ever have to be tried in front of a jury. And the list of illnesses has already become excessive.

Victor Schwartz, a retired law professor and law school dean, wrote in the Oct. 24th New York Daily News: “The ease for prevailing” in these cases “has lawyers salivating and willing to invest many millions of dollars in a national advertising campaign to cash in on potentially multi-billion dollar litigation.”

And all they have to show is it is “as likely as not” that they were harmed by the water.

When I was a young lawyer the American Bar Association requested comments from members about whether lawyers should be allowed to advertise. I wrote opposed to the advertising, saying it would cheapen the profession, and it has.

Now, the U.S. and almost every other country is deeply in debt because it is just too easy for politicians to spend other peoples’ money.

I really respect and appreciate the 174 Republicans in the House and 11 in the Senate who voted against the Camp Lejeune bill.

Unfortunately, all the 220 Democrats who were present and 34 Republicans voted for it, and President Biden happily signed it.