This week, the Supreme Court will hear a case so twisty it inspired a John Grisham novel, the Washington Post reports. At stake: the standards for judicial impartiality. The owner of a small coal company sued a huge one, alleging it illegally drove him out of business. He won, but the larger outfit won on appeal—after its CEO spent $3 million to help elect a new West Virginia Supreme Court justice.
That new justice, Brent Benjamin, cast the deciding vote in overturning the verdict, and plaintiff Hugh Caperton argues that Benjamin couldn’t possibly be impartial, and ought to have recused himself. But his opponents argue that Don Blankenship, CEO of AT Massey Coal, had every right to donate to Benjamin’s campaign, and that “probability of bias” is a weak standard.