Friday, June 27, 2008

Supreme Court Gives Exxon Relief and Guns To DC

We agree with both Supreme Court decisions. Exxon had a horrible accident in Alaska trying to service America's, as President George Bush calls it, "oil addiction," and spent a couple billion on trying to clean up the oily mess it created. But America cannot have it both ways. We cannot want to use at least 20 million barrels of oil every single day, yet demonize the oil industry for doing what it takes to service this very important public need. The court ruled 5-3 to slash the $2.5 billion in punitive damages in the Exxon Valdez disaster to $500 million on June 25. Justice Samuel Alito recused himself in the case because he owns Exxon stock. In 1989, the supertanker dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound, fouling 1,200 miles of coastline. A jury decided in 1994 that Exxon should pay $5 billion in punitive damages. In 2006, a federal appeals court cut that verdict in half. Exxon has spent $3.4 billion to clean up the spill and compensate Native Alaskans, landowners and commercial fishermen. Nearly 33,000 plaintiffs are in line to share in the award, an average of about $15,000 a person.

The Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 decision struck down the District of Columbia's ban on handgun possession on June 26 deciding for the first time in U.S. history that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual's right to own a gun for self-defense. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Chief Justice John G. Robers, Jr., Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:

"We hold that the District's ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. The Second Amendment surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home."

Dissenting justices included Stephen G. Breyer, John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

We agree with this ruling because law abiding citizens of the District of Columbia and other violence prone cities should be able to protect themselves in their homes. The gun ban has not reduced gun violence in the District of Columbia and Black-on-Black murder with guns is the most immediate environmental threat to youth all over America.

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