Surprise: Supreme Court sides with Exxon!

The Supreme Court yesterday joined the rest of the U.S. Government in protecting the rights of major corporations to fuck U.S. citizens. The nine learned folks in black robes took exception to the punitive damages levied by a jury against ExxonMobile for the reckless actions that caused the environmental catastropy called the ExxonValdez oil spill. The initial award was $5 billion. The Supreme Court dropped that sum to $500 million. I know that sounds like a lot, but in 2007 ExxonMobile had a staggering profit of over $40 billion — more than any corporation ever (see here). 

Let’s remember what this is all about:

The Exxon Valdez spill was the worst in American history, damaging 1,300 miles of shoreline, disrupting the lives and livelihoods of people in the region and killing hundreds of thousands of birds and marine animals. It occurred after the ship’s captain, Joseph J. Hazelwood, left the bridge at a crucial moment. Mr. Hazelwood, an alcoholic, had downed five double vodkas on the night of the disaster, according to witnesses. (From the NYTimes, here.)

The new award is only about five days profits for Exxon — I’m sure they’ll learn their lesson now and never do anything reckless again.

It is great to live in a land where mighty corporations buy and sell influence and get virtually anything they want. That’s democracy. That’s freedom. That’s the American Way!



  1. Hi,

    You seem like a bright and reasonable guy.

    So, where, exactly, did you learn to tolerate the idea of government determining the profit margin of private business?

    Hint: Medicare…it’s a friggin nightmare precisely because of that practice.


  2. Hank,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I’m not sure where in this post you find me advocating for the government determining the profit margin of private business. What I did argue is that for an award to actually be punitive it must inflict some pain.

    In addition, my post isn’t about what the government is deciding, but about how the Supreme Court is PROTECTING a negligent corporation from the decision of a jury of U.S. Citizens.

    And, regarding Medicare, it isn’t any more a nightmare than dealing with any health insurance company. I had to fight with my insurance company for over a year while they dithered about whether or not to pay for a procedure that my primary care physician and two specialists insisted I needed.


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