Tuesday, June 09, 2009

West Virginia Saved from "Scalia Justice"

An important decision regarding the buying of judges was handed down yesterday by the U.S. Supremes in a 5-4 decision. Because the case involved the influence of Big Coal in the state of West Virginia, I've been following it for years and can only applaud the decision and note that Justices Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, and Alito (the minority in the decision) think it's perfectly all right to buy yourself a judge, if you've got the cash, and that the bought judge is perfectly within his rights to rule in your favor when the time comes.

Here's the background: Several small mining companies sued A.T. Massey Coal Company, alleging that Massey's chief executive, Don L. Blankenship, the Boss Hogg of the West Virginia coal industry, had used fraud to drive the small companies out of business. The plaintiffs won a $50 million jury verdict in 2002, which Blankenship appealed to the state's Supreme Court, where he lost in a 3-2 decision. Whereupon Blankenship found himself a lawyer willing to be his candidate in the next election, running against the state's Chief Justice, who cast the deciding vote against him, and spent $3 million in 2004 to defeat the Chief Justice and install his own guy, who promptly supplied the third vote in reversing the previous decision. Got that?

Which developments, ruled the five-judge majority on the U.S. Supremes yesterday, violate the Constitution's due-process clause. They've sent the case back to the West Virginia Supreme Court and ordered the Blankenship-bought chief justice to recuse himself from any further involvement.

Judge Scalia, who himself knows a thing or two about buddying up with Dick Cheney and then ruling in his favor, was particularly outraged that the majority on the court thinks it can "right all wrongs and repair all imperfections through the Constitution." That's the guy who helped appoint our president in 2000.

No comments: