How important are the upcoming battles over SCOTUS nominees? I would suggest they are pivotal in our nation's history - for - in my humble view - we are balanced on a knife's edge and the SCOTUS may well herald our embrace of the malaise of corporate subversion of fundamental principles or issue a clarion call for a return to the cornerstone of what made America the shining city.
I saw this story http://finance.yahoo.com/... explaining that an appeals court upheld a finding of racketeering and fraud entered against major players in the tobacco cartel. These conglomerates, of course, vowed an appeal (further extending the over decade old struggle) to the SCOTUS.
My guess is the Court will accept the writ of certiorari and in a year or two - may have to come face to face with the question of how our legal system deals with vastly powerful and overwhelmingly funded major enterprises that have been found to be in the business of committing racketeering and fraud.
The whispers were there decades ago - that the tobacco giants knew what they were doing, knew it in great detail but made the decision that they could use their power, money and influence to literally overwhelm any court challenge.
Part and parcel of this campaign was funding of the whole "tort reform" movement. Not satisfied with the relatively isolated hand-to-hand combat of lawsuits here and there - tobacco saw as its marketing goal calling into question the validity of the courts themselves. "Personal responsibility" was twisted into a notion that the victims of any manner of unlawful behavior should be shunted from polite conversation and looked upon as part of the leper colony of grasping "plaintiffs". Indeed the whole idea of the campaign was to embed in the public mind the idea that "plaintiff" was a category of person that was, well, not really our kind of person.
Slowly the facade was chipped away - and the documents, studies and information leaked out. As the decision in the current litigation shows - the evidence supports the fundamental notion that Big Tobacco consciously engaged in conduct to market poison and cover up the implications of what it was doing.
Apparently - even after the first part of the veil was pulled back - and Big Tobacco acknowledged that it was in the nicotine delivery business and it knew that drug was both toxic and addictive - the industry charted a new course of deception. Masters of marketing - the industry sold "light" "reduced tar" product - the intimation being the new improved version was somehow healthier.
he nine-month trial heard by U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler without a jury included live and written testimony from 246 witnesses and almost 14,000 exhibits in evidence. Prosecutors said the companies secretly agreed not to compete over whose products were the least hazardous to smokers to ensure they didn't have to publicly address the harm caused by smoking.
So - when forced to choose a path - this component of American business chose more deception. It hardly seems a stretch to understand that Wall Street and the titans of finance could look at the legal climate and not abstract the principle that accountability and transparency could be marketed away.
There is a deep rot in the corner offices and the Persian rug filled conference rooms - what one can get away with trumps the value of what one can earn. The SCOTUS will have to make a decision - what it does will go a long way to establishing what the corporate environment will be.