GOP bill shifts oil drilling cases to court dominated by judges with oil investments

Yesterday, the House passed the so-called “Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act,” which is intended to make it easier for the oil industry to drill in the Gulf of Mexico. Sadly, this bill also continues the GOP’s longstanding practice of rigging the court system to favor wealthy and influential interest groups.  ThinkProgress has the story.

Tucked within the bill is a provision that consigns many lawsuits involving oil drilling into a federal court that is dominated by judges with close ties to the oil industry:


Venue for any covered civil action shall not lie in any district court not within the 5th circuit unless there is no proper venue in any court within that circuit.

It should come as no surprise that the oil industries’ allies in Congress want to make sure that only Fifth Circuit judges get to hear the industry’s appeals. When it is not busy ordering high school cheerleaders to pay $45,000 because they sued the school district that required them to cheer for their alleged rapist, the Fifth Circuit’s judges have cozied up tightly with the oil industry.

Ten of the Fifth Circuit’s sixteen active judges have oil investments, including Chief Judge Edith Jones, who owns as much as $330,000 in oil interests. Two Fifth Circuit judges, Jerry Smith and Eugene Davis, even ruled in favor of the oil industry in a major drilling moratorium case despite the fact that they both attended expense-paid “junkets for judges” sponsored by an oil-industry funded organization. A third Fifth Circuit judge, Edith Clement, actually serves on the board of this organization, despite an opinion from the federal judiciary’s ethics committee saying that Clement violates her ethical obligations by remaining on this board.

The House GOP’s effort to shift the oil industry’s litigation into a court dominated by oil-friendly judges in only the right’s latest attempt to stack the deck in favor of corporate parties and against ordinary Americans:

It’s bad enough that corporate America thinks that they are above the law, but it is inexcusable that the GOP is fighting tooth and nail to give the wealthiest and most powerful interests all the legal immunity their hearts’ desire.

— A ThinkProgress Repost.

4 Responses to GOP bill shifts oil drilling cases to court dominated by judges with oil investments

  1. David Smith says:

    As corupt as this is, this should be no suprise, coming from the GOP, the Grand Oligarch Party.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    OK, we already knew about Congress and the Executive branch (as in Salazar). The main newspapers and TV networks have been corrupted. Now it’s the judges, too.

    What’s next? Churches? “This sermon brought to you by Exxon Mobil”. Don’t put it past them.

  3. Chris Winter says:

    Didn’t we go ’round this track once before? Ah, yes: “Junkets for Judges” — I remember it well. :-)

    It sure is lucky that none of these Fifth Circuit jurists are “activist judges.” (Lucky for the GOP, that is.) They’re merely judicial activists, trying to do the Right thing.

  4. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The really funny thing is that the US, and the Western powers and their Rightwing MSM, never cease hectoring and lecturing the Chinese over their legal system. You often see pompous declarations that China does not enjoy ‘the rule of law’. Well, here you have it-really existing Western ‘rule of law’. In the common law system that pertains in the Anglosphere, winning is everything. There is not even the pretense any longer of a pursuit of ‘truth’ or- God help us!- ‘justice’. Just the same winner-takes-all mentality, where the richer party invariably triumphs. Judges concoct opinions, which become ‘precedents’ out of thin air, as is witnessed by diametrically divergent judgments, which invariably reflect the known ideology of the judge and the ideology of those who appointed them. The West is now so totally corrupted, morally, intellectually and spiritually, by two centuries of market capitalism, that it is, to all intents and purposes, moribund. What comes next is capitalism’s ‘fall-back’ position- fascism.