February 29, 2008

"Conservative" Judges and Punitive Damages

A commentator on the recent Exxon Valdez argument in the U.S. Supreme Court opined that "The right wing judges who pollute our courts have drastically reduced punitive damages, which is the issue here, to the point where they're completely useless." As set forth in greater detail in an earlier post, it is difficult to make the traditional "liberal" vs. "conservative" judge argument with respect to punitive damages considering that Justices Scalia and Thomas (presumably two of the justices considered to be most "conservative") have joined with Justice Ginsberg to dissent from the Supreme Court's jurisprudence in finding due process limitations on the size of punitive damage awards. Similarly, Justices Stevens, Breyer, and Souter have joined with Justices Kennedy, O'Connor, Rehnquist, Alito and Roberts to find due process limitations on punitive damage awards.