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.