Today in the News, 3.24.09

  • “Currently, merit matters little in judicial elections.” Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, writing in the Houston Chronicle, urges the state to shift away from a partisan election system for selecting judges to a merit-based system, having previously cited the current Supreme Court case of Caperton v. Massey Coal as a reason why the state may be forced to abandon its system of judicial elections.
  • Also: “In the wake of last fall’s battle for Cliff Taylor’s seat on the Michigan Supreme Court, which saw millions of dollars spent by the candidates, the parties and political action committees, Cooley Law School hosted a symposium last week that focused on the corrupting influence of money in judicial elections in the 39 states that elect judges.” The Michigan Messenger reports that the Michigan Supreme Court is considering proposed new ethics rules governing recusal of judges from cases involving campaign contributors.
  • “Exxon, the world’s largest oil company, has kept using tankers with one hull even as 151 countries have decided two are better than one for preventing oil spills and pledged to ban single-hull vessels by 2015.” Bloomberg discusses the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill — which is today — observing that oil tankers now are still prone to spills. Perhaps if the Supreme Court had ruled differently last year, and not dramatically reduced the punitive damages owed by Exxon to the victims of the Valdez spill, the company would have a greater incentive to use double-hulled vessels.