Your Lying Eyes

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03 December 2008

Punitive Damages Are Unconstitutional

Punitive damages are unconstitutional. There. What was so hard about that?

I assume punitive damages are tolerated because they pre-date the constitution in English jurisprudence, but they're not recognized beyond the Anglo-sphere. Here is where Scalia and Thomas's originalism fails conservative principles, since punitive damages are chiefly used as a weapon against the free market and in support of a socialist agenda.

Punitive damages constitute a punishment not supported by a finding of reasonable doubt based on criminal-justice procedure. A mere "preponderance of evidence" is sufficient to cause the defendant irreparable harm. Granted, the constitution only requires that life, liberty and property be forfeited under due process of law - which presumably a civil court trial constitutes. Yet imprisonment could never be imposed by a civil court (nor obviously execution). So why is property exempt from this protection.

So in this latest case, an $80million award against Philip-Morris, CJ Roberts wondered aloud how big a punitive damage award has to be to violate due process? The answer, CJR, is zero = all punitive damages violate due process. If Philip-Morris is guilty of fraud, then indict them for fraud and bring them to criminal trial. Otherwise, pay to the plaintiffs whatever damages a jury finds, and that's it. How hard is this to comprehend?


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