Regular readers might remember John Banzhaf, the George Washington University professor and “Sue The Bastards” trial lawyer responsible for frivolous fast-food lawsuits in the early 2000s. Mercifully for our taste buds, he largely failed.
But the trial bar and Mr. Banzhaf never go away forever. Cato Institute legal watchdog Walter Olson notes the meddling Banzhaf’s latest tactic:
[Some] 200 undergrads will be asked to contact legislators in their home cities, counties, or states asking them to adopt legislation similar to that already adopted in New York City – and apparently to be considered in D.C., Cambridge, Mass, New York State, and perhaps elsewhere – banning restaurants, delis, movie theaters and many other businesses from selling high-sugar drinks in cups or containers larger than 16 ounces.
From Olson’s reporting, it appears that Banzhaf’s trial-lawyers-in-training will be compelled to actively lobby for Banzhaf’s anti-choice agenda wherever they live. At least Banzhaf provides policy options for his charges to consider — outright sugared drink prohibition, soda taxes, minimum pricing, and age restrictions among them. Some choices.
Wayne Wheeler — the man responsible for lobbying the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) into law — would be proud. We all know how that worked out. And like Prohibition, the policy Banzhaf advocates simply “combines the draconian government overreach people love with the probable lack of results they expect,” to borrow Jon Stewart’s phrasing.
But there’s a bigger threat looming than college kids calling their city councilmen: Banzhaf and the entire lawsuit industry is hoping that the latest anti-obesity hobby-horse of so-called “food addiction” will allow them to pry open food companies’ and restaurants’ purses.