Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was worth billions of dollars to corporate America, if a Dow Chemical settlement made public Friday is any indication.
Dow was in the midst of appealing a $1.06 billion class-action antitrust ruling, after a jury found that it had conspired with other chemical companies to fix prices for urethane, a material used in furniture and appliances.
But because of Scalia’s death and the sudden unlikelihood of finding five votes on the Supreme Court to overturn the case, Dow decided to settle for $835 million, the bulk of the original award.
“Growing political uncertainties due to recent events with the Supreme Court and increased likelihood for unfavorable outcomes for business involved in class-action suits have changed Dow’s risk assessment of the situation,” the company told Bloomberg News.
The case reveals how corporations have used the conservative majority on the court as a safety valve to nullify unfavorable rulings. As the Alliance for Justice has documented, time and again, the Roberts Court has issued 5-4 rulings that protect big corporations from liability, limit access to justice for workers and consumers, and allow companies to evade regulations on the environment, racial and gender discrimination, and monopolistic practices.
The most famous of these Court rulings, the Citizens United decision, enabled unlimited corporate spending in elections to attack regulatory structures at the legislative and executive branch. But the corporate stranglehold on the judicial branch provided a backstop, another venue to relieve big business from accountability.
Scalia’s death on February 13 changed that, at least temporarily. The 4-4 split between liberals and conservatives on the Court means that, in most controversial cases, a deadlock allows the lower court ruling to stand. And in nine of the 13 federal district courts of Appeals, Democrats have appointed the majority of judges, making it harder for corporations to get a favorable judgment.
This is not just a theoretical matter; it comes down to dollars and cents, as the Dow Chemical case shows.
United States Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has won the South Carolina primary over rival Bernie Sanders, several major networks projected, propelling her into next week’s crucial “Super Tuesday” voting in 11 states on a wave of momentum.
“To South Carolina, to the volunteers at the heart of our campaign, to the supporters who power it: thank you,” Clinton tweeted as CNN, MSNBC and Fox News all called the vote in her favour at the close of polls on Saturday.
Huge cheers broke out at the venue in Columbia, South Carolina, where Clinton was due to deliver a victory speech to supporters.
“It’s time, it’s time, it’s time for a woman in the White House,” the crowd chanted.
Russia has halted air strikes in Syria in accordance with a ceasefire brokered by the country and the US.
Russia entered the Syrian conflict on behalf of ally President Bashar al-Assad in September 2015, and its air power has played a significant role in the recent major gains by government forces.
“Russia’s air force fully halted bombing in the green zone – that is in those areas and those armed groups which had sent us ceasefire requests,” Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi, a senior representative of the General Staff, said.
A lull in fighting was reported throughout most of Syria on Saturday, hours after the US-Russia brokered “cessation of hostilities” agreement took effect.
The UK would face a decade of massive economic uncertainty with potentially disastrous consequences for business and the pound if it were to vote to leave the EU, the Europe minister says.
The dramatic warning from David Lidington, a key figure in David Cameron’s renegotiation of EU membership, is part of a frontal assault launched by Downing Street and the Foreign Office aimed at discrediting the campaign for Brexit, now headed by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.
Thousands of protesters have assembled in central London for Britain’s biggest anti-nuclear weapons rally in a generation.
Campaigners gathered from across the world: some said they had travelled from Australia to protest against the renewal of Trident. Others had come from the west coast of Scotland, where Britain’s nuclear deterrent submarines are based.
As the huge column of people began moving from Marble Arch after 1pm, the mood was buoyant and spirited despite the cold.