The Supreme Court on Tuesday weighed a $79.5-million verdict to punish cigarette-maker Philip Morris in a closely watched test of whether the justices will put strict limits on big jury awards, reports the Los Angeles Times. This is the most important case of the term for major corporations, which seek to limit such awards, and the outcome probably depends on President Bush’s two appointees to the high court.
Antonin Scalia and his conservative ally Justice Clarence Thomas have insisted the Constitution does not restrict damage awards from state courts and their juries. Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has taken the same view. If Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. were to agree with them, they could deal an enormous setback to the business community in its drive to limit big-money verdicts.