Big oil's position on climate change is reminiscent of tobacco companies' on smoking risks
Have some special interests grown so big and powerful that they can stare down the Department of Justice? You’d hope not, because once bigness and power become an excuse to operate outside the law, we will end up seeing a lot more lawless behavior by the big and powerful. In a nation built on the rule of law and the principle of equal justice before the law—that’s not good.
But once you get big enough, staring down law enforcement becomes a credible strategy. Mighty defendants who can mount “blizzard defense” strategies can put immense pressure on even government plaintiffs. When I brought suit as attorney general against the lead paint industry for poisoning thousands of Rhode Island children, the industry lawyers listed multiple dozens of trial witnesses. It would be malpractice not to depose your adversary’s trial witnesses, so all over the country we went to take depositions. At trial, the industry called exactly zero of those witnesses. It had been a wild goose chase to exhaust our resources. And that is only one among many heavy-handed maneuvers big defendants can afford.