Thursday, March 17, 2005

Scalia's speech

Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia delivered a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on March 14, 2005. A blog named ThreeBadFingers has transcribed the whole thing by hand. Please if you read just one thing today, make it this one. A teaser:

The very next case we announced is a case called BMW verses Bush. Not the Bush you think; this is another Bush. Mr. Bush had bought a BMW, which is a car supposedly, advertised at least as having a superb finish, baked seven times in ovens deep in the Alps, by dwarfs. And his BMW apparently had gotten scratched on the way over. They did not send it back to the Alps, they took a can of spray-paint and fixed it. And he found out about this and was furious, and he brought a lawsuit. He got his compensatory damages, a couple of hundred dollars, the difference between a car with a better paint job and a worse paint job. Plus, two million dollars against BMW for punitive damages for being a bad actor, which is absurd of course, so it must be unconstitutional. BMW appealed to my court, and my court said, “Yes, it’s unconstitutional.” In violation of, I assume, the Excessive Damages Clause of the Bill of Rights. And if excessive punitive damages are unconstitutional, why aren’t excessive compensatory damages unconstitutional? So you have a federal question when ever you get a judgment in a civil case. Well, that one the conservatives liked, because conservatives don’t like punitive damages, and the liberals gnashed their teeth.

I'm fully in favor of liberals gnashing teeth!

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