Widespread news reports indicate American oil companies are enjoying record profits, with ExxonMobil leading the way.
Those news reports have a particular resonance in Alabama. That's because last fall the eight Republicans on the Alabama Supreme Court overturned a jury verdict that awarded the state $3.6 billion in a natural-gas royalties case against ExxonMobil.
The jury had found that ExxonMobil committed fraud and awarded a whopping amount in punitive damages. But in an 8-1 decision (with the court's lone Democrat dissenting), the Alabama Supreme Court overturned the verdict.
In the aftermath of that ruling, it was widely reported that Republicans on the court had taken large campaign contributions from ExxonMobil and other big-oil interests.
Alabama's Republican Governor, Bob Riley, did not even seek to have the ruling reheard. And he did not attempt an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, evidently understanding that a halfway honest brief would have exposed the unlawful actions of his GOP compadres. Riley, after all, was placed in office with the same corporate backing that packed the Alabama Supreme Court with Republicans.
Think that $3.6 billion might have come in handy?
I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...