Scalia's pro-tobacco order tossed by high court

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2002
Scalia's pro-tobacco order tossed by high court
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Thu, 06-30-2011 - 11:59am
Scalia's pro-tobacco order tossed by high court

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia exercised a rarely used power last fall to let Philip Morris USA and three other big tobacco companies delay making multimillion-dollar payments for a program to help people quit smoking.

By MARK SHERMAN

Associated Press

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2015466767_apusscaliatobacco.html

WASHINGTON —

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia exercised a rarely used power last fall to let Philip Morris USA and three other big tobacco companies delay making multimillion-dollar payments for a program to help people quit smoking.

Scalia, a cigarette smoker himself, justified acting on his own by predicting that at least three other justices would see things his way and want to hear the case, and that the high court then would probably strike down the expensive judgment against the companies.

This week, the court said he was wrong about that.

On a court that almost always acts as a group, Scalia singlehandedly blocked a state court order requiring the tobacco companies to pay $270 million to start a smoking cessation program in Louisiana. The payment was ordered as part of a class-action lawsuit that Louisiana smokers filed in 1996. They won a jury verdict seven years ago.

Scalia said in September that the companies met a tough standard to justify the Supreme Court's intervention.

"I think it reasonably probable that four justices will vote to grant certiorari," Scalia said, using the legal term to describe the way the court decides to hear most appeals, "and significantly possible that the judgment below will be reversed."

Not only did the justices say Monday they were leaving the state court order in place, there were not even four votes to hear the companies' full appeal. And the court provided no explanation of its action.

Scalia said through a court spokeswoman that he also had no comment on the matter.

Robert Peck, the Washington-based lawyer representing the Louisiana smokers at the Supreme Court, recalled thinking Scalia had made unwarranted assumptions about the case.

"I was really rather surprised he would issue the stay," Peck said of Scalia's order blocking the judgment from taking effect.

The case went to Scalia because he oversees the 5th Circuit, which includes Louisiana.

Justices have the authority to act on their own to issue an order that blocks another court's decision from taking effect, often in cases that are being appealed to the high court.

But in recent years they rarely have done so. The last time a justice acted alone in similar circumstances was in 2006, when Justice Anthony Kennedy blocked a court order to remove a giant cross from a public park in San Diego while the matter remained under appeal. The cross case still is working its way through the courts.

Thomas Goldstein, a Washington lawyer and close observer of the court, said: "This was a very rare and unusually assertive ruling by a single justice. The later briefing in the case seems to have persuaded the court, and maybe even Scalia himself, not to get involved."

In issuing his order, Scalia noted national concern over the abuse of class-action lawsuits in state courts and raised concerns about the companies' legal rights.

He said that without delaying payment, the companies might not be able to recover all their money if they ended up winning in the Supreme Court. The other companies in the case are Brown and Williamson Holdings Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Tobacco Co.

A Louisiana appeals court had a different take on the subject of delay, noting that the plaintiffs are aging and dying at a significant rate.

One of the two named plaintiffs, Gloria Scott, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2000 and died in 2006

 nwtreehugger  

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2009
Thanks. And I hope the best for your father.

My DS is 22 and smokes about 3 of those little cigars a week. I hope he quits.

And this is just my opinion, but I believe alcoholics and drunk drivers kill more innocent people than smokers do.

That's not really relevant to the discussion, I guess... but I wanted to throw that out there.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2009

My father is rail-thin, drinks a beer or two in a week, doesn't smoke at all and never did in the past .

For years I tolerated second-hand smoke. There was no other choice. Smoke doesn't stay limited to the airspace around the person burning tobacco in one form or another (pipe, cigar, cigarette, whatever).

In the past twenty years or so, there's been a sea change in attitudes. I am grateful. If smokers want to take their pollution somewhere away from others, and if they are willing to take responsibility for the adverse health impact of their smoking, that's fine.

I offered to buy cigarettes for my children when they were teenagers and might be tempted by peer pressure to try to be "cool". But they were also told that before I made good on the offer, they would be expected to watch the autopsy of a chronic smoker who died of lung cancer. And if they ever chose to smoke and pay for their own cigarettes, it would also be the case that they would NEVER smoke in my house or my vehicle. So far, neither of them smoke. DS (30 years old) doesn't drink though he likes my homemade rum balls. DD (almost 29) drinks a tiny bit, gets giggly and then falls asleep. I don't see either of them having a problem with alcoholism though they know that there may be a genetic predisposition (through DH's father).

I can see where your experience would have a major impact on attitudes towards alcohol and drinking.

Jabberwocka

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2002
I'm sorry about the collision. One of my cousins was in a car where the driver had been drinking & they went over the side on a steep roadway. My cousin had to crawl to the roadway for help. She never got in a car when that friend was driving again - sober or not! She has also never driven drunk herself.

And I lost a cousin that I was very close to when she was broadsided by a drunk driver at age 22. Her fiancee survived with just scratches, and she died instantly.

I don't deny that alcohol is a problem. I think it should be as heavily taxed as tobacco with the proceeds going towards intervention/support groups & helping those who have been the victims of drunk driving.

 nwtreehugger  

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2009
Yes, there are alot of people that can drink reasonably. And then there are millions that can't.

And I'm not willing to say that smokers cost the U.S. as much as alcohol abusers, though.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2009
Yes, smoking is bad and all smokers should quit. And I didn't mean to sound like I'm against tax dollars going to an effort to help them quit. I'm not.



 

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2009
Cigarettes are bad, I never said otherwise. But there are other unhealthy habits, also, that seem to be forgotten when swiping at smokers.

And, maybe my view is a little slanted because of a head-on collision by a drunk driver, where I was the only survivor.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2002
Plus, having a glass of wine, a beer, etc. isn't like smoking either on an individual level. I can have a glass of wine every now & then with no adverse health affects. I don't know anyone who can smoke a cigarette only 'every now & then' - plus it has an affect on their lungs/throat/mouth every time they smoke.

 nwtreehugger  

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2002
I didn't mean to skirt around anything.

I took your comment about diabetes & fat people to mean that you felt that diabetics were fat. I apologize if I misread it. I'm not quite sure why else it would be a part of this discussion, that's all.

And you misread my comment. I was only addressing the fact that many people could quit smoking but don't even try. I also feel that their smoking has a detrimental affect on those around them. I'd be more than willing to see my tax dollars going to help them quit! In fact, many of the extra taxes do go towards smoking cessation programs. Why shouldn't smokers pay for that?

I agree that money is wasted on wars, pork, etc. And I NEVER said that universal healthcare wasn't for smokers! I didn't realize you were asking me that so I thought you were making a statement. And I have no 'list' - that's ridiculous!

 nwtreehugger  

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2009
I have no reason to believe that "other pollutants" were responsible for the problems my father experienced.

Before the advent of a non-smoking section on international flights, one could fly on a long transoceanic route, and have clothing so saturated with cigarette smoke that the room in which those clothes were hung post-flight, would also reek of smoke.

While alcohol can also adversely affect one's health and the health of others if driving impaired, it will NOT harm necessarily harm others who happen to be in the same room with the drinker. The same cannot be said of cigarettes.

Jabberwocka

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2009
You skirted around alot of my post.

And you know I never said one had to be fat to be diabetic.

As far as your question about taxes per pack and health care ... I never said that, either. You said none of your tax money should be spent on dying smokers. And I countered that with money spent on stupid wars and waste, and not on health in our own country.

I guess universal healthcare in the US is for everyone but smokers, in your opinion, huh? Or do you have a list of people that shouldn't have it?

 

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