Republican Justice: blindness to conflicts of interest

June 8, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More

The United States Supreme Court was barely able to hold that it’s wrong to spend $3,000,000 electing a judge and than be able to have your newly purchased judge decide a big case in your favor.    Decided June 8, 2009, Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Company Inc. was a 5-4 decision, with dissents by John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.   The defendant in the West Virginia case was a coal company that had been accused of fraud, and the jury had awarded $50 M in damages against defendant.  It was A.T. Massey’s Chairman and Chief Officer Don Blankenship who stepped in to buy the judgship for Brent Benjamin for $3 M after the verdict, knowing that this case would be considered by the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Image: By Supreme Court (public domain)

Image: By Supreme Court (public domain)

Chief Justice John Roberts frets that he can’t criticize this obviously wrong case of a $3,000,000 judge because there are less obvious cases that would be more difficult to decide.    Think about it:  Roberts is urging that the Court can’t decide the easy cases because there are also some other cases that aren’t so easy.   Why not just hang up your robes and give it up?  Tell me a situation where that isn’t true.   Roberts goes even further, suggesting that hammering the $3,000,000 judge will undermine our fair, independent, and impartial judiciary.

Good grief.

Scalia had previously shown that he is completely obtuse to the idea of a conflict of interest when he decided a case favoring his duck-hunting buddy, Dick Cheney.


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Category: Corruption, Court Decisions, Law

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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