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Class Action and Global Warming

As the Supreme Court comes into the final stretch of the term opinions on some of the eagerly awaited bigger cases are coming down.  SC110620_Scalia

Today Justice Scalia delivered the opinion in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the largest ever class-action suit.  Brought by female employees of the retail giant it accused Wal-Mart of sex discrimination in pay and promotion.  Not surprisingly Wal-Mart won.


The other opinion on my watch list to come down today, American Electric Power Co. v. Conn., did not get as much attention.  In an opinion written by Justice Ginsburg the Court said that the regulation of greenhouse gases is the job of the EPA, and that States cannot make an end run around the Clean Air Act by filling a “public nuisance” claim in federal court.

ScotusBlog’s Lyle Denniston on the global warming case can be found here.

NYT article on Wal-Mart is here.


Brobdingnagian Class-Action

A gigantic class-action suit brought against megastore Wal-Mart for its biased treatment of female employees seemed to run into trouble in the Supreme Court today.  Wal-Mart took some tough questions from Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan.

Justice Ginsburg to Wal-Mart’s lawyer, Theodore Boutrous : “Isn’t there some responsibility on the company to say, is gender discrimination at work, and if it is, isn’t there an obligation to stop it?”.

But when it was the turn of the women’s lawyer, Joseph Sellers, Justice Kennedy said, “Your complaint faces in two directions.  Number one, …headquarters knows everything that’s going on.  Then in the next breath you say . . . these supervisors have too much discretion.”

Said Justice Scalia, “I’m getting whipsawed here.” ( note: Scalia got into a multi-car fender-bender on his way to court this morning, so he may have been suffering whiplash as well. )

If you really want to know about the arguments read Lyle Denniston’s recap.

I just wanted to use the word brobdingnagian.