On Tuesday, March 3, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Company. The Supreme Court here considers the issue of judicial recusal. The case comes to us from the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship spent three million dollars supporting Brent Benjamin’s 2004 campaign for a seat on that court—more than 60% of the total amount spent supporting his campaign. Once on the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, Justice Benjamin refused to recuse himself from this case and cast the deciding vote to overturn a $50 million jury verdict against A.T. Massey Coal Company, a subsidiary of Massey Energy. Petitioners appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court, which now considers whether Justice Benjamin’s failure to recuse himself from his principal financial supporter’s case violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. For this edition of SCOTUScast we have John Shu, an attorney at Stradling, Yocca, Carlson, & Rauth, moderating a discussion between Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher Associate Amir Tayrani on the side of petitioners and Capital University Law Professor Bradley Smith on the side of respondents.
Oral Argument - March 3, 2009: