Election Law

CEO at Center of Caperton Case Speaks Out


Don Blankenship, the chief executive of Massey Energy Co., questions whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this week that a judge he supported should have recused himself will ultimately stifle free speech.

A divided court ruled 5-4 Monday in Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Company that elected judges should step aside when large campaign contributions create an appearance of bias.

“I hope the Supreme Court’s ruling will not silence others from speaking out when change is needed,” Blankenship said in a statement published by the Associated Press.

The AP reports that Blankenship explains his $3 million effort to get Chief Justice Brent Benjamin elected to the West Virginia Supreme Court. His primary objective was opposing former Justice Warren McGraw.

“Like millions of other Americans, I contributed my time, my energy, and, yes, my money to oppose a candidate I disagreed with personally and politically,” Blankenship is quoted saying. “It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court’s ruling is being reported as a matter of corporate influence and judicial review. This is not and was not ever about the company I have served for more than 27 years or the industry I have worked for the majority of my entire life.”

Prior coverage:

ABA Journal: “Caperton’s Coal”

ABAJournal.com: “Top Court Hears Judicial Influence Case, Leans Toward Stricter Recusal Standard”

ABAJournal.com: “ABA Among Five Groups Urging High Court to Hear Judicial Recusal Case”

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