INTRODUCTION Of the thousands of footnotes in the thousands of opinions that the Supreme Court of the United States has published over the years, (1) very few capture the attention of the national media. (2) Footnote 17 of Justice Souter's majority opinion in Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, (3) decided in June 2008, may turn out to be one of those rarities. (4) In that case, which involved Exxon Shipping Company's challenge to a $4.5 billion punitive damages award in the notorious Exxon Valdez litigation, the Court had to decide the limits that federal maritime law placed on punitive damage awards. After examining punitive damages in historical perspective, the Court penned a brief summary of recent critiques and defenses of punitive damage awards in civil litigation, most of which it drew from the academic literature. At the end of this discussion, the Court dropped footnote 17.