Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was a steadfast friend and ally of the rich and powerful, and that was reflected in many of the votes he made while on the court. Now that he’s gone, and with a massive fight between Republicans and Democrats on the next nominee likely to take a bit of time, Scalia’s loss is having profound effects.
The Minnesota Tribune reported Friday,
“Dow Chemical said Friday it will pay $835 million to settle a long-standing class action lawsuit, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia decreased its chances of prevailing at the Supreme Court.”
That announcement shows how corporations are shifting their legal strategy following the loss of the court’s 5-4 conservative majority.
“I think most corporations facing class actions regarded Justice Scalia as a friend,” said Robert Peck, president of the Center for Constitutional Litigation in Washington. “He has been a thoroughly consistent vote on their side of the equation.”
Dow was found liable in 2013 by a Kansas jury of conspiring to fix prices for polyurethane, an industrial chemical used in everything from packaging to car interiors. The judgment dealt with alleged actions by Dow and several other companies between 2000 and 2003. Dow had petitioned the Supreme Court to reconsider the judgment, until Scalia died.
A company spokesman said Friday the court’s current lineup has “increased the likelihood for unfavorable outcomes for business involved in class action suits.”
Now that the Supreme Court has an even split between perceived liberals and perceived conservatives, any tie in the supreme court would automatically shift the decision to the previous lower court ruling against Dow. In other words, the decision against Dow in the lower court would stand, and this case could never again be brought to the supreme court. Dow was going to be a winner with Scalia, and without him, the company is a loser.
This is just one example of the wonderful legal acumen of Scalia. If a company ripped off employees or customers, killed them, maimed them, violated their legal rights, or stole from them, Scalia could always be counted on to vote for corporations, their CEOs, and their rich shareholders regardless of the evidence or the law. This was only natural, I suppose, since Scalia was often seen in the company of the rich and powerful, such as the Koch Brothers.
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