Democrats received a colossal gift last November when Republicans on the Alabama Supreme Court ramrodded an 8-1 decision that overturned most of a $3.6 billion judgment in favor of the State of Alabama and against oil giant ExxonMobil.
Will Democrats be able to take advantage of this gift at election time? That is the focus of an intriguing story by Bob Lowry of The Huntsville Times.
The November 2008 election will include only one state supreme court race--Republican Greg Shaw against Democrat Deborah Bell Paseur.
Paseur seems like an attractive candidate, but I've yet to see evidence that she wants to make the ExxonMobil ruling a major campaign issue. If she doesn't, she almost certainly will lose--and she will deserve to lose if she doesn't have the spine to tell the truth about the corrupt Republicans who let ExxonMobil get away with a $3.6 billion highway robbery.
The ExxonMobil ruling is about as grotesque an example of judicial malfeasance as one can imagine. In fact, we have stated numerous times here at Legal Schnauzer that the eight Republicans who voted to overturn the jury verdict (with Chief Justice and lone Democrat Sue Bell Cobb casting the only dissent) almost certainly committed federal crimes in letting their oil buddies off the hook.
We have illustrated the heroic actions of Sue Bell Cobb in standing up for justice in the ExxonMobil case. If you really want to understand the ExxonMobil screw job, check out her dissent here. It begins on page 100 of the 125-page ruling.
Former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman put the ExxonMobil ruling in perspective when he released a statement about the case yesterday:
The Exxon Case is a very good issue for the Supreme Court race in 2008. It spotlights the lopsided imbalance on the State Supreme Court.
The Court has been stacked, election after election, with large corporate-backed candidates. Today, the people have only one voice on the Court, Sue Bell Cobb. The people desperately need another voice, the voice of Debroah Passeur.
In 1996, Kenneth Ingram had a politically astute anti-corporate, populist offensive when he ran headlong into Karl Rove's slimy corporate funded campaign. That was the election where Rove used Republican Harold See and untruthful TV ads paid for by large corporate interests, as a weapon of mass political destruction.
Unfortunately for Democrats, Justice Ingram's strong populist anti corporate message was not the focus of Kenneth's TV ad campaign.
Siegelman seems to be saying that Paseur has a made-to-order campaign issue with which to bash Republicans about the head. And she needs to make hay of a populist, anti-corporate message in her TV ads. If she can use the ExxonMobil ruling to win her race, Democrats in future races should be able to follow suit.
But if Paseur is timid and chooses not to spotlight the ExxonMobil ruling, she will lose. And Alabama will remain in the clutches of corporate fat cats for the foreseeable future.