Sign that you may have gone rabid in your tort-reform crusade: when asking for ID before handing out letters full of children's personal information — including addresses and maybe phone numbers — to random people is another facet of the cabal of wicked trial lawyers' evil scheme to propagate an overly litigious society, rather than a minimal effort to keep any random freak from finding vulnerable urchins who might be lured into harm's way with the promise of a Sue Me Elmo or a Satanic Litigator Barbie.
While Legal Pad was lost in a post-holiday food coma, USAToday ran a little article about how the U.S. Post Office is changing its policies for letting volunteers answer children's letters to Santa Claus. From now on, volunteers will have to present ID and sign a waiver before they can read and respond, with notes or gifts, to some of the more heartfelt holiday missives.
We were drawn to this quote:
"This is absurd," says John Andrews, a former president of the Colorado Senate who specializes in tort reform at the Claremont Institute, a conservative public policy think tank in California. "You would think the North Pole is one place on Earth that is safe from the trial lawyers and the litigation experts."
Yeah, you would. But you would not think the random foot traffic in your local post office is necessarily free of pedophiles and con artists. Mr. Andrews seems to miss the point that the letters don't go to the elvin sweatshops at the North freakin' Pole, they go to any actual human who shows up and asks for some. Oh hell, did we just ruin Mr. Andrews' belief in the reality of old St. Nick?
Of course, all this is beside the real legal point. The brilliant courtroom climax to "Miracle on 34th Street" is predicated on the claim that federal law prohibits the Post Office from giving mail to anyone other than the addressee, meaning all those Santa letters could only go to the one, true Mr. Claus. If they're passing out that right jolly old elf's mail to randomly charitable folks (with valid driver's licenses), where does that leave little Natalie Wood's tender belief in the magic of the holiday?
No wonder postal officials are starting to go in for waivers, too ...
— Brian McDonough