Jun 8, 2009

Money, Justice and Due Process

The rightwing hates this decision, Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal, et al. (08-22).

You can guess the desirability of the opinion by looking at what side of the five-four decision the members are on.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer in the majority.

In the minority are the Soviet justices: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr..

From Justice Kennedy's opinion:

The question presented is whether the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was violated when one of the justices in the majority denied a recusal motion. The basis for the motion was that the justice had received campaign contributions in an extraordinary amount from, and through the efforts of, the board chairman and principal officer of the corporation found liable for the damages.

Kennedy wrote that the facts in the case presented an "extraordinary" and "extreme" set of circumstance that compelled the majority to act to protect the due proecss rights of the litigants.

“The court’s decision is appropriately narrow but is nonetheless a huge victory for one of the most basic aspects of the rule of law — the right to a fair hearing,” said James Sample, a lawyer with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. (Adam Liptak, NYT)
Fair hearings, the rightwing is not so keen on the concept.

One wonders if Wisconsin Justices will now routinely recuse themselves from cases involving interests who spent extraordinary resources during campaigns to elect them to their positions.

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