OCTOBER TERM, 2008
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
CAPERTON ET AL. v. A. T. MASSEY COAL CO., INC.,
CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF APPEALS OF WEST
No. 08–22. Argued March 3, 2009—Decided June 8, 2009
After a West Virginia jury found respondents, a coal company and its
affiliates (hereinafter Massey), liable for fraudulent misrepresenta-
tion, concealment, and tortious interference with existing contractual
relations and awarded petitioners (hereinafter Caperton) $50 million
in damages, West Virginia held its 2004 judicial elections. Knowing
the State Supreme Court of Appeals would consider the appeal, Don
Blankenship, Massey’s chairman and principal officer, supported
Brent Benjamin rather than the incumbent justice seeking reelection.
His $3 million in contributions exceeded the total amount spent by all
other Benjamin supporters and by Benjamin’s own committee. Ben-
jamin won by fewer than 50,000 votes. Before Massey filed its ap-
peal, Caperton moved to disqualify now-Justice Benjamin under the
Due Process Clause and the State’s Code of Judicial Conduct, based
on the conflict caused by Blankenship’s campaign involvement. Jus-
tice Benjamin denied the motion, indicating that he found nothing
showing bias for or against any litigant. The court then reversed the
$50 million verdict. During the rehearing process, Justice Benjamin
refused twice more to recuse himself, and the court once again re-
versed the jury verdict. Four months later, Justice Benjamin filed a
concurring opinion, defending the court’s opinion and his recusal de-
Held: In all the circums