In the ongoing battle between the two sides, the federal government and Big Tobacco went before the Supreme Court Friday with a series of filings. The Obama administration asked the high court for collection on $280 billion of past tobacco profits, or $14 billion for a national quit-smoking campaign that had been previously awarded.
R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris and other tobacco companies are asking the high court to strike previous findings that the industry knowingly concealed the dangers of smoking. They claim the government improperly applied RICO law to achieve the findings, and that statements made by Big Tobacco deemed fraudulent by the court were actually protected by First Amendment right to engage in the public-health debate about smoking.
Big Tobacco was ruled to have engaged in a scheme to defraud the public in a 2006 decision by U.S. District Judge Glady Kessler. It was later upheld by a federal appeals court in Washington.