May 6, 2008

Boston Legal Attacks Supreme Court's Punitive Damages Jurisprudence

Tony Mauro describes a recent episode of Boston Legal which engaged in a direct attack on the United States Supreme Court. Among other things, the main character, Alan Shore, played by actor James Spader "lights into the court as he argues before look-alike justices on behalf of a Louisiana child rapist facing the death penalty. The episode aired just six days after the real court heard arguments in Kennedy v. Louisiana, an actual child rape/death penalty case. A sample of the rhetoric: Shore attacks the 'overtly and shamelessly pro-business' court, and takes a sharp detour from the rape case to slam Justice Antonin Scalia for his seemingly likely support for Exxon Mobil in the case - also argued recently - involving punitive damages awarded after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. 'Nineteen years after the Valdez oil spill and the plaintiffs are still waiting to be fully compensated,' Shore says. When the Scalia character interjects sharply, 'You are getting so far off point,' Shore shoots back: 'My point is, who are you people? You've transformed this court from being a governmental branch devoted to civil rights and liberties into a protector of discrimination, a guardian of government, a slave to monied interests and big business and today, hallelujah, you seek to kill a mentally disabled man.'"