Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Recent Supreme Court Decisions


With regard to the Exxon Valdez spill – the Court greatly reduced a pre-determined penalty from $2.5 billion to $507.5 million. The spill, remember, happened in 1989. 20 years later, litigation continues. A couple of things here. Last year, Exxon made $2.5 billion in less than 2 days of business. Meanwhile, 32,000 fishermen, Alaska natives, property owners and others (including uncountable wildlife populations) had their lives irrevocably changed the day a drunk captain ran his ship full of crude aground. Further, I don’t think the Court should have heard the case. What’s unconstitutional about awarded damages? Lower courts have the capability and jurisdiction to decide these matters.

I’ll raise a related question: do you think it’s important now how much gas and oil cost? Do you think it’s important how much one corporation profits every year? Thousands of lives were ruined and Exxon took this case all the way to the Supreme Court. How much do you think doing so affected their bottom line? Whatever they pay will be pennies on the dollars they continue to make off our backs every day.

Which brings up another important point: this Court is really solidifying itself as being pro-corporatist. Does it matter now what kind of person gets put into the White House, whether by the Supreme Court or by the electoral college? You’re damn right it does. Had Gore or Kerry won, you can bet the kind of Justices nominated by Bush wouldn’t have been considered. These Justices, and many more on lower courts across the country, get to sit on the bench for their lifetime. They’ll be issuing decisions like these for the next 20-30 years. Welcome to the Corporate State of America.

The D.C. handgun ban decision was a bad decision. It seems to me the Court legislated on Valdez, why do something different with guns? It boils down to selective activism by a corporatist, ultra-conservative Court. Given the right-wing’s screaming about judicial activism, we shouldn’t have expected anything else. They attacked where they were weakest.

The article mentions poll results, which I think reflect efforts of hundreds of millions of dollars spent by the NRA and other groups – a very successful marketing & PR campaign.

As for Sen. Tester’s comment – states and municipalities have had laws that apply to some people and not to others since our country’s inception. Based on his logic, everyone should support gay marriage just as much as they support the right of every citizen to own a handgun. But some states have outlawed gay marriage while allowing heterosexuals to marry.

I would also like to see people get this upset over their availability to quality health care. How is self defense a basic human right while health isn’t? Our country has some serious problems with setting priorities. The right to maim and murder is fought for while the right to stay alive and healthy is controlled by … corporations. Huh, imagine that.

I have waited in vain all day to hear an obvious result of this decision: more American citizens are going to die because of it. [Update: I found one.] No matter which way you slice this issue, that fact is undeniable. It’s interesting that there is conflict between the members of the following: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Should some members of our society lose their life so that others have the liberty to own an instrument?

4th vs. 2nd amendments.

I’ve touched on this subject before and this decision really brought it home for me. Republicans have spent 30 years propping up support for guns, convincing voters that Democrats want to take them all away, despite a lack of evidence to support such a ridiculous contention. If the FISA bill passes the Senate with retroactive immunity and Bush signs it, warrantless wiretapping will be codified in our laws. Which means the 4th amendment will be severely weakened. Where are the small government voices? Where are the conservatives who were so concerned the government would take their guns away now that their right to probable cause is hanging by a thread? This is what I can’t stand about single-issue voters. They’ve been so blinded by a false threat that they’re missing real threats.

The 4th amendment seems more far-reaching to most Americans than the 2nd. We engage in communication over phones and the internet much more often than we even consider buying, let alone using a gun. It’s frightening to me then that so much more attention has been focused on the 2nd than the 4th.

Do we have more government regulation over our cell phones and computers than we do a handgun? If so, why?

I’m going to write more about the effects of the FISA legislation and the Court’s decision in the future. Republicans need to answer for their assault on the 4th amendment more vigorously than they demanded Democrats’ answers for a non-existent assault on the 2nd. I won’t let this issue slide under the table.

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2 thoughts on “Recent Supreme Court Decisions

  1. Pingback: Random Hits 7/1/08 « Weatherdem’s Weblog

  2. Pingback: Rep. John Salazar Operates from Right-Wing Frame « Weatherdem’s Weblog

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