Sunday, July 20, 2008
Exxon and the Supremes
"After almost 20 years of legal battles over the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Supreme Court last week slashed the punitive damages imposed on ExxonMobil to $500 million from $2.5 billion. ... Justice David H. Souter cited studies showing that under federal maritime law, punitive damages were on average equivalent to actual damages in cases where the damage was not deliberate or malicious. ... It's what conservatives call 'judicial activism' when so-called liberal judges do it. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his dissent, 'Congress is far better situated than is this court to assess the empirical data, and to balance competing policy interests, before making such a choice.' ... Ginsburg wrote, 'The new law made by the court should have been left to Congress.' So it should be. Yet again, as in cases involving automakers, cigarette manufacturers and other companies the court has sided with big business. ... Exxon is a business, and it functions like a businees. The Supreme Court, however, strayed from its function in arriving at this arbitrary decison with no basis in the law, and that's everybody's business", my emphasis, Editorial at the Houston Chronicle, 30 June 2008.
I agree with the Chronicle. The Supremes regularly create law. Look at the recent case ending Louisiana's death penalty for rape. What was the Supreme's basis for that? Why was the recent District of Columbia gun case decided 5-4 as opposed to a 9-0 shutout? The Supremes do whatever they want. We should accord them no respect whatsoever.