WASHINGTON - Elena Kagan€™s Supreme Court nomination has added a wrinkle to the high court€™s review of a racketeering lawsuit the government has filed against cigarette manufacturers, the Associated Press reports.
Should Kagan€™s confirmation go through, she could not hear the case because she has already expressed her opinion. As solicitor general, she signed the Obama administration€™s brief to the Supreme Court on the case, which automatically disqualifies her.
Next week, the justices will debate whether they will hear the tobacco lawsuit, which would be on the fall or winter docket. The government is seeking $280 billion from past tobacco profits and an additional $14 billion for a national anti-smoking campaign.
Kagan also has ties to tobacco that predate her turn as solicitor general when she was the Clinton administration€™s chief negotiator. In that position, she worked on tobacco measures during the late 1990s.
When Congress failed to come up with a tobacco bill, the government filed the racketeering lawsuit. "One thing I can say for certain is nobody worked harder to try to bring people together," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, of Kagan€™s efforts.
If confirmed, Kagan€™s absence from hearing the case could cause the government from getting the money from the tobacco companies. Philip Morris USA, Altria Group Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., British American Tobacco Investments Ltd. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. have filed separate but associated appeals related to the U.S. District judge€™s findings and the appeals court that upheld her ruling.