Let's review Chief Justice John Robert's tender and caring feelings for the plight of the wealthy and powerful.
Today, from Dana Milbank of the Washington Post....
Nineteen years after the Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound and spilled 11 million gallons of oil, the 32,000 plaintiffs -- mostly fishermen, cannery workers and Native Alaskans -- have received no punitive damages from Exxon.
A jury awarded them $5 billion in punitive damages -- a record level, for a record disaster -- and an appeals court cut that in half. Now, the Supreme Court seems inclined to deal another insult to the victims (as many as a fifth of whom have already died) by cutting the award further.
Roberts seemed the most agitated as he argued that Exxon wasn't responsible for the captain's unauthorized drunkenness. "I don't see what more a corporation can do," he said. "What more can the corporation do other than say 'Here is our policies' and try to implement them?"
The lawyer arguing for the Alaska fishermen affected by the spill, Jeffrey Fisher, had an idea. "Well," he said, "it can hire fit and competent people."
The rare sound of laughter rippled through the august chamber. The chief justice did not look amused.
What more could a poor, broken down, multi-national corporation with record profits have done?
Ruth Ginsburg pointed to the evidence that "Exxon knew that this captain had a severe alcohol problem, and yet, they let him stay on voyage after voyage and did nothing about it."
The Exxon Valdez spill "spoiled 1200 miles of Alaska's coastline" and these anti-American plaintiffs want Exxon to pay $2.5 billion in damages. These jokers want three weeks of profits from the world energy behemoth. The audacity of these fishermen can only be described as breathtaking.
The reason Bush nominated Roberts and then later, Alito, was to help the powerful and the wealthy in America, after all, Bush called these people, "my base". Conversely, Roberts and Alito(who had to sit this case out) were nominated to keep the weak and vulnerable from getting too uppity.
However, as neo-cons constantly are reminding me, Bush isn't on the ballot this year.
Well, yeah, he kind of is.
Here are the words describing how the GOP nominee for president, John McCain, really feels about judges like Roberts and Alito....
"Let me just look you in the eye," the Arizona senator said, "I’ve said a thousand times on this campaign trail, I’ve said as often as I can, that I want to find clones of Alito and Roberts. I worked as hard as anybody to get them confirmed. I look you in the eye and tell you I’ve said a thousand times that I wanted Alito and Roberts. I have told anybody who will listen. I flat-out tell you I will have people as close to Roberts and Alito [as possible], and I am proud of my record of working to get them confirmed, and people who worked to get them confirmed will tell you how hard I worked." Link
Okay Straight Talker, we believe you.
If you like Justices who will continue to dismiss the complaints of the poor and unwashed while simultaneously favoring the beleaguered rich and powerful, then vote this year for John McCain, by all means.
From the Post article comes the moral of the Exxon-Valdez story.
Brian O'Neill, one of the Alaska victims' lawyers, conceded that, whatever the Supreme Court's ruling, Exxon had already won. "I guess the lesson you learn," he said, "is that if you're big and powerful enough, you can bring the system to a halt." Link
Even though Exxon long ago "won", it's still necessary for Chief Roberts to continue to advocate for the most powerful. He can't let his judicial guard down. If he does the people would be in danger of receiving equal justice under the law. We really can't have that, now, can we? Roberts has to send a message throughout America. The message that the powerful and the wealthy need not fear huge damage awards for their negligence. Particularly if it's a case brought by the weak and vulnerable.
That's exactly what George Walker Bush, and John Sidney McCain, want their judges to do.
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