Supremes Deny Republication of Lockheed Litigation Cases

You might remember my post from early November about the dismissal of Supreme Court review of the Lockheed Litigation Cases.   Review was dismissed because a majority of the justices recused themselves due to conflicts of interest created by their ownership of stock in one or more of the oil company defendants.

The oil companies, who prevailed in the Court of Appeal, sought to have the Court of Appeal opinion republished.  Wednesday, the three non-recused Supremes and one designated Court of Appeal Justice voted 4-0 to deny republication.  Those justices that had recused themselves from review likewise recused themselves from the republication decision.

I remain baffled by Chief Justice George’s rationale for the dismissal.  According to the Daily Journal article I cited in my previous post, he claims that a decision by a panel composed primarily of designated justices fron the Court of Appeal would not carry the same precedential value as a case decided by the Supremes themelves.  Though Supreme Court cases have been decided in the past by panels composed entirely of designated justices from the Court of Appeal, the Daily Journal article noted that Chief Justice George distinguished those earlier occasions as being based on “necessity” rather than conflicts of interest.

I am not sure I agree with the decision not to republish the case.  If the issue was so important that it warranted review, why not have precedent out there?  Perhaps the Supremes were unwilling to return to the state of affairs prior to the grant of review because the original grant was not tainted by conflicts.  (According to this article at Cal Law, apparently there was no conflict until Chevron, in which three of the justices own stock, merged with defendant Unocal a few months after review was granted.) 

Cal Law’s Legal Pad blog provides an update.