Reading about Don Blankenship of the Massey Energy Company in the NYT , I kept waiting for the mention of Caperton v. AT Massey Coal , the Supreme Court ruling about judicial corruption gone crazy. Here’s Dahlia’s description of the facts that Justice Anthony Kennedy called “an extraordinary situation” in his majority opinion:
In August 2002, a West Virginia jury returned a verdict finding A.T. Massey Coal Co. liable to the tune of $50 million for fraudulent misrepresentation, concealment, and tortious interference with contractual relations against Hugh Caperton and Harman Development Corp. While the appeal was still pending, Massey’s CEO, Don Blankenship, spent $3 million of his own money to remove one state supreme court justice and seat another-his contributions amounting to more than two-thirds of all the funds raised. Brent Benjamin won the election, then refused to recuse himself from Blankenship’s appeal, ultimately casting a vote in favor of Massey in a 3-2 verdict overturning the $50 million jury verdict.
Kennedy said for the majority that Benjamin should have recused himself. But that didn’t punish Blankenship. Now we know that he was at the head of a company with a shoddy safety record, and 25 miners dead this week in an awful blast.