A rhetorical war is heating up over the Alabama Supreme Court's recent ruling that threw out most of a $3.6 billion jury verdict for the state in a case against oil giant ExxonMobil.
This is a war that Democrats simply must win. The ExxonMobil ruling is a GOP gift, wrapped in a gigantic bow, saying, "Here, take back the appellate courts--if you have the guts." Do Democrats have the guts?
If Democrats fail to take that gift and beat Republicans over the head with it, there is no hope for justice in Alabama for the foreseeable future.
Joe Turnham, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, is making an encouraging start toward educating the public about just how badly they have been screwed by our corporate-owned courts.
Turnham makes many strong points in his recent public statements. He says the $3.6 billion represents only five weeks of ExxonMobil's earnings. He notes that the money could have helped repair county roads and bridges, fill a Medicaid funding gap, added thousands of state troopers and sheriff deputies, provided laptop computers for every Alabama student, and provided college scholarships for thousands of graduates.
But Turnham and the Democrats still are pulling punches. They still are not getting to the key point. Here's the nutshell message: The eight Republican justices who voted to overturn the trial-court verdict are CRIMINALS. Let me repeat: They are CRIMINALS!
If Democrats cannot show that significant numbers of Republican judges in this state are CRIMINALS, they are likely to continue getting clobbered in judicial races. Heck, the Bush Justice Department has prosecuted a Supreme Court justice in Mississippi (one supported by Democrats) for behavior that wasn't even close to what the GOPers in Alabama have done.
Our GOP justices took $5.5 million in campaign contributions from Exxon interests and then ruled unlawfully in their favor. That is a CRIME! It's called honest-services mail fraud. It's also called bribery. People understand the concept of crime. Use it against the Republicans for once.
Democrats, for God's sake, please do what Republicans have done so brilliantly for years: Use clear, simple language that Joe Six-Pack can understand. These GOP judges are CRIMINALS.
How's this for an ad: Republican Judges Control our High Courts. They are CRIMINALS! Here's why . . . "
And you don't even have to do any work to show why. I'll do it for you. Just stay tuned to Legal Schnauzer. Heck, just read Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb's dissent in the ExxonMobil case. She all but calls her colleagues criminals.
Speaking of a rhetorical war, you can check out this piece of garbage from Skip Tucker, director of Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse. There is no polite way to say this, so let's be blunt: Mr. Tucker is a paid shill who doesn't have a clue about the facts or the law in the Exxon case. His group should be called Alabama Voters Who Enjoy Bending Over and Taking it up the Wazoo from Corporate Criminals.
If the Democrats can't beat this weenie, God help them.