Today’s Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a $2.5 billion judgment in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill is a shocking example of the power Big Oil has in America. And even worse miscarriages of justice may be ahead.
In the blather of this year’s presidential election, one important issue has been overlooked: the power the next president will have to nominate Supreme Court justices. Already stacked by George W. Bush to reflect a blatantly “conservative” philosophy, the court could be further loaded with right-wing ideologues if John McCain were to become president.
The protection American women now have in controlling their reproductive functions would almost certainly be removed. But that’s not all. The court would become an even more unassailable bastion for defense of the wealthy and powerful, an even more impregnable fortress from which to repel progress.
By siding with a powerful oil company against Alaskan fishermen, landowners, local governments and native Americans, the Supreme Court has shown where its loyalties lie – and that is definitely not with the citizens of America.
Exxon claimed it owed nothing because it had already paid millions in government fines, as well as $3.4 billion in cleanup costs. The fines paid by Exxon included $500 million to compensate the thousands of fishermen and others who lost their livelihoods. A 1994 jury awarded the victims $5 billion, and a federal court later cut that amount in half. Exxon appealed the $2.5 billion judgment to the Supreme Court.
And now the Supreme Court has obliged Big Oil, ruling that Exxon Mobil doesn’t have to pay another dime in damages, even though the oil giant could easily afford the fine. Inflated oil prices have brought unprecedented profitability to Exxon Mobil in recent years. It takes the company less than two days to make $2.5 billion.
Remember how the court ruled on the 2000 presidential election, taking the presidency from Al Gore to give it to Bush? Well, the guardians of our judicial system are showing their true colors again by denying the rights of fishermen and native Americans to meaningful compensation for their incalculable losses.
And if America elects McCain president, buddy, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.