The case, Berger v. Arizona, No. 06-349, has drawn considerable attention in criminal law circles as providing a possible occasion for the justices to take a fresh look at a subject they have treated only sparingly. While fully engaged in reconsidering the respective roles of judges and juries in criminal sentencing, the court has been extremely reluctant to strike down particular sentences as excessive.Here's Berman, blogging about the Philip Morris case and before the Berman cert. denial:
Douglas A. Berman, a professor at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University and an authority on sentencing, also noted the difference in the court’s treatment of punitive damages and criminal sentencing.
In an interview on Monday, recalling that the court last week vacated an award of punitive damages against Philip Morris, Professor Berman said, “For a host of good reasons, the justices think they have a role in regulating extreme corporate punishment, but I fear the court doesn’t embrace a role in regulating extreme individual punishment.”
[I]t remains to be seen if the five Justices who are prepared to constitutionally second-guess certain instances of harsh corporate punishment might also be willing to sometimes constitutionally second-guess certain instances of harsh individual punishment.I guess now we've seen.