Washington, D.C. – Cigarette makers have won a round at the Supreme Court.
The Court won't let the Bush administration pursue a $280 billion penalty from tobacco comapnies on claims they misled the public about the danger of smoking.
The decision wasn't a surprise, because a federal judge has not yet decided whether tobacco companies are guilty of wrongfoing.
The fight at the high court was over the amount of money the companies would have to pay if the judge rules that they violated a federal anti-racketeering law.
The Bush administration urged the court to step in now, otherwise the case could drag on for several more years. But the cigarette makers say the court should give the judge time to rule.
The $280 billion is the most ever sought in a civil racketeering trial.