By Christina England | October 12th, 2010
Today, Tuesday 12th October 2010, a case involving a child who has been vaccine damaged is being heard at the Supreme Court USA. This high profile case has the potential to change the law surrounding cases that involve vaccine injuries. However, already there is controversy surrounding this case. The reason is because Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. recently sold his shares in the company Pfizer, worth $15,000 or more, enabling him to participate.
If this was the first time Roberts had done this, I guess that he could be excused to some degree, but this guy seems to make a habit of selling shares to suit. According to a report on Kentucky.com (http://www.kentucky.com/2010/…), this was not the first time that Chief Justice John Roberts Jr has decided to sell stocks to enable him to take part in a case.
The reason that he does this according to Kentucky.com, is because there are nine judges who can sit on a case. If two of these sit out then this would give the case seven. If this occurred it could give an undesirable verdict, for example a 4-3 majority win. With an even number of judges, a hung decision of 4-4 becomes more of a possibility.
Let’s face it, having a hung decision is more preferable in a high profile case, especially the one sitting today.
Bearing in mind that the Wall Street Journal had stated (http://online.wsj.com/article…) that Elena Kagen had recused herself because she had previously been involved in the case; she served as U.S. solicitor general. Roberts, who originally had said that he was not sitting, would need to sit to benefit the court. Thus giving them a higher prospect of a hung decision. Is this the true reason behind Roberts selling his shares? I guess we will never know for certain but it is certainly a strong possibility. Kentucky.com says:
“Having one justice out of a case sets up the undesirable possibility of the rest of the court dividing 4-4. In such cases, the lower court ruling stands, but the Supreme Court sets no precedent to guide lower courts. In essence, it’s a waste of time for the court to have considered the case. Even a 4-4 outcome, however, is preferable to the prospect of a 4-3 decision, which could result if two justices don’t take part in a case. In that instance, less than a majority of the nine-member court could render an important decision. On at least one other occasion, Roberts sold stock to avoid having a seven-justice court hear a case.”