August 29, 2008

The Presidential Race, and Views on Punitive Damages

Interesting that Slate faulted Obama for not bashing SCOTUS over the "activist" Exxon Valdez decision, saying, "Obama spent the final days of the Supreme Court term celebrating conservative constitutional outcomes rather than calling out dubious conservative methodology. Who was better situated to chide the court's conservatives for what sure seems to be an activist ruling that saved Exxon $2 billion in damages stemming from the Valdez oil spill?"

Meanwhile, McCain's newly announced running mate, Alaska governor Sarah Palin, did express disappointment with the Exxon Valdez decision, reportedly saying that the court "gutted the jury's decision on punitive damages" and undercut one of the principal deterrents for marine shipping accidents in Alaska. Without apparently identifying any flaw in the court's legal analyis (which, as an interpretation of federal common law was well within their purview, and would hardly seem the type of "activist" treatment of statutes or state law that judges are often accused of), Palin was also reported as complaining, "It is tragic that so many Alaska fishermen and their families have had their lives put on hold waiting for this decision" and, "My heart goes out to those affected, especially the families of the thousands of Alaskans who passed away while waiting for justice."