Ignorantia juris non excusat:
From Differences between Civil and Criminal Law in the USA
The statement "ignorance of the law is no excuse" is an ancient legal doctrine:
Ignorance of the law excuses no man; not that all men know the law; but because 'tis an excuse every man will plead, and no man can tell how to confute him.John Selden (1584-1654), posthumously published in Table Talk, 1689.
If a defendant were allowed to escape legal responsibility for his acts, merely by saying "I didn't know it was wrong/illegal", the system of using law to regulate human conduct would collapse. So the doctrine is a practical necessity.
But that's not how Bush sees it. From today's radio address
, speaking in favor of the Senate's version of the FISA bill:
The Senate bill would prevent plaintiffs' attorneys from suing companies believed to have helped defend America after the 9/11 attacks. More than 40 of these lawsuits have been filed, seeking hundreds of billions of dollars in damages from these companies. It is unfair and unjust to threaten these companies with financial ruin only because they are believed to have done the right thing and helped their country.
Further into the speech, Bush says:
When Congress reconvenes on Monday, Members of the House have a choice to make: They can empower the trial bar -- or they can empower the intelligence community. They can help class action trial lawyers sue for billions of dollars -- or they can help our intelligence officials protect millions of lives.
Bush is implying that the lawers are acting for themselves and not for any other constintuency. So why not just outlaw class action suits altogether?