The Supreme Court today handed down a series opinions on the penultimate day of the term. Major thanks should go to SCOTUSblog for getting these opinions online minutes after the Court announces them. I’ll eventually change the links to redirect to the Supreme Court’s website, but thanks go to SCOTUSblog for letting us read the cases as quickly as possible.
- Exxon v. Baker- The Court struck down punitive damages imposed on Exxon to victims of the Exxon-Valdez crash on the grounds that punative damages should not exceed compensatory damages per accepted Maritime common law. Justice Souter penned the majority opinion.
- Kennedy v. Louisiana- The Court held that imposing the death penalty for child rape is unconstitutional if death was not the intent of the action in question. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority and the Chief and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito dissented. The case came down straight 5-4 with one majority and one dissenting opinion.
Kennedy’s decision is much stronger than I expected in the sense that he declares:
In most cases justice is not better served by terminating the life of the perpetrator rather than confining him and preserving the possibility that he and the system will find ways to allow him to understand the enormity of his offense.
Really? He made that argument? Oh dear.
- Giles v. California- The Court held: “The California Supreme Court’s theory of forfeiture by wrongdoing is not an exception to the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation requirement because it was not an exception established at the founding.” Word on the street is that the Court really meant to say that when a defendant takes means or action specifically designed to prevent an individual from testifying against them (murder,) they forfeit their confrontation clause-given rights. Fascinating stuff.
- Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle- The Court ruled that Plains Commerce Bank retains standard Article III recourse to a Indian Tribal ruling over its dealings with property held by Indians on reservation ground.
Thats all for today. Heller comes down 100% tomorrow. Stay tuned for more commentary on today’s cases, particularly Kennedy v. Louisian.