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Monday, October 30, 2006

We, the Companies of the United States...

In a New York Times editorial last week entitled “The Supreme Court’s Crusade: Fairness for the Powerful,” Adam Cohen highlights the Court’s “disturbing path of giving corporations more protection from excessive punishment than it gives to people.” He points out that although the Court over the past decade has invoked the Constitution to strike down high punitive damage awards against companies for victims of corporate wrongdoing, it has simultaneously upheld extraordinarily harsh criminal sentences, finding nothing excessive about a 50 year jail sentence for $153 worth of shoplifting. Cohen isn’t optimistic that the Court will curb that trend with its decision in the Philip Morris case poised for argument this week, although other commentators have deemed it “up for grabs.” Calling the Roberts Court “the most pro-business court in decades,” Cohen fears the new justices, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, will ignore their stated commitments to textualism and judicial restraint in order to side with corporations. So do we.

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