Let’s zero in on the “public interest” reasoning Judge Kaplan offered during a hearing on February 8, 2011, when he issued a temporary restraining order for Chevron, prohibiting the Ecuadorians from enforcing the judgment (emphasis ours):
“Public interest warrants some consideration also, I think. I don't denigrate the interests asserted on behalf of the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, if indeed what they claim happened occurred, if they have a right to relief in Ecuador. They are entitled to it in the fullness of time, by which I mean not indefinite delay but prompt proceedings to examine the bona fides of any judgment.
“On the other hand, we are dealing here with a company of considerable importance to our economy that employs thousands all over the world, that supplies a group of commodities, gasoline, heating oil, other fuels and lubricants on which every one of us depends every single day. I don't think there is anybody in this courtroom who wants to pull his car into a gas station to fill up and finds that there isn't any gas there because these folks have attached it in Singapore or wherever else.”
[See Chevron v. Donzinger, S.D.N.Y, Case No. 1284CHEC, Transcripts of hearing on February 8, 2011, pages 49-50, via Southern District Reporters, P.C.]
Judge Kaplan’s reasoning was very interesting because he essentially channeled an unnamed Chevron lobbyist who was quoted in a Newsweek piece written by Michael Isikoff back in July of 2008 going over Chevron's efforts to deploy lobbyists " to squeeze Ecuador by ending its trade preferences unless the government forced the plaintiffs to dismiss the lawsuit ":
“We can’t let little countries screw around with big companies like this – companies that have made big investments around the world.”
The similarity in Judge’s “reasoning” and the quote from Chevron’s lobbyist is pretty striking. Isn’t it?
We think Judge Kaplan’s TRO-related decisions represent a clear and arguably extreme example of judicial activism. As noted over at chevroninecuador.com, the job of determining whether a particular sector of the economy or individual industry demands extraordinary legal protection belongs to Congress, not the courts. His de facto policy-making on behalf of one specific corporation, Chevron, is therefore much more breathtaking (and inappropriate) when viewed from a “checks and balances” perspective.
Also see this story in Politico about Chevron’s efforts to end Ecuador’s trade preferences. Congresswoman Linda Sanchez called it “extortion.”