The Supreme Court today declined to hear the federal government’s appreal in the lawsuit against the tobacco industry. Quite rightly, the courts found that the $280 billion award for past tobacco profits was ridiculous. Of course, this suit began under the Clinton Administration’s Justice Department. But why has Bush’s Justice continued to pursue it? In 2001, Justice maintained budget levels for the tobacco suit. Since the inquiry wasn’t expanded, Democratic Senators asked then-AG Ashcroft if he supported the suit. He replied, “The Justice Department is proceeding with the case and I support the department’s position.” That’s the reply of a man obeying the White House. For more on the lawsuit’s affront to free speech, see Jacob Sullum in Reason earlier this year.
This isn’t the only area in which Bush’s Justice is off track. Steve Moore wrote in our June 2005 issue (“George Bush’s Antitrust Tax“) that Bush’s aggressive antitrust policy prevents the market from adapting.