Letter to the editor

In today’s Washington Post:

Dana Milbank’s Feb. 28 column on Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker operates on the premise that the winner of any Supreme Court argument should be whoever can best appeal to the justices’ sympathies regardless of the merits of the case. Such an approach is more appropriate for coverage of television game shows than the law.

The Post would do better to treat its readers like grownups and have its Supreme Court reporting done by journalists who don’t “yawn” at questions about the appropriateness of jury instructions.

— Theodore H. Frank


The writer is director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Legal Center for the Public Interest.


  • Dana Milbank’s column was terrible in so many ways. Particularly distressing was this: “The notion of the justices pulling a number out of thin air seemed a bit too neat for an oil spill that spoiled 1,200 miles of Alaska’s coastline.”

    1,200 miles of coastline would stretch from New York beyond Miami. Give me a break! The actual coastline that was affected fully recovered years ago and probably would have recovered more quickly had nothing been done.

    My understanding was that shipping oil out of Valdez was so straight forward that all involved let up their vigilance. The shipping hazard was not properly marked by the maritime officials. Aside from crew training and using credentialed people the company itself had no involvement with the accident. The ship cost a lot of money and the oil on the ship was worth a lot of money, it is not credible that Exxon shipping would be lax in these regards.

    The Ted Frank podcast was a superior account of the Supreme Court Argument. I did not know before the podcast that Captain Hazelton explicitly told the mate to turn to avoid the hazard.

  • The second sentence, “Exxon Mobil, the giant oil corporation appearing before the Supreme Court yesterday, had earned a profit of nearly $40 billion…”

    That’s obvious spin. Can the author at least try a modicum of objectivity?