February 14, 2008

"Was the Oregon Supreme Court's Opinion Heroic, Dangerously Defiant, or Simply Formalistic?"

Anthony Sebok has an article on FindLaw which analyzes the Oregon Supreme Court's recent opinion in Philip Morris v. Williams. He looks to a number of justifications that have been given to defend the Oregon Supreme Court's opinion. Ultimately, he opines that "the Oregon Supreme Court could have read the [sic] Philip Morris's cert petition, or Breyer's conclusion, or the 2002 appellate decision for their substance, as opposed as to a counterintuitive formal or literal meaning. And had it done so, its interpretation would have been much more persuasive. But a substantive interpretation would have meant giving a victory to a hated tobacco-company defendant--one that had forced the United States Supreme Court to twice intervene in Oregon's own local search for justice on behalf of an Oregonian whom a jury had found was defrauded by the company and killed by its product." His bottom line is that "I would like the United States Supreme Court to take some time out of its busy schedule to vacate the recent Oregon decision, and to remand with instructions that the jury verdict be retried with instructions that do not violate the Constitution. That would be a fitting response to a state court that seems to think that winning is the only thing that matters."