Is the Roberts Supreme Court in the Pocket of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?
Monday, June 25, 2012
Justices Scalia, Roberts and Thomas
Although during his 2005 confirmation hearing Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts tried to reassure the Senate that he would be unbiased because “Judges are like umpires,” he and his fellow Republican justices seem to have a strike zone that favors big business. With only five decisions remaining to be announced in the final week of its term, including a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court is on its way to calling a perfect game–for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Continuing a trend of nakedly pro-business decision-making, the Roberts Court this year has ruled the way the Chamber wanted in every case in which the Chamber intervened. Workers have been particularly hard hit. In Coleman v. Court of Appeals, for example, the five Republicans made it impossible for state employees to sue their employer for failing to give them the leave mandated by the Family and Medical Leave Act, while in Christopher, et al. v. Smithkline Beecham, Corp., the five overruled the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Department of Labor in denying pharmaceutical sales reps overtime pay.
According to an analysis by the Constitutional Accountability Center, these victories bring the Chamber’s overall win/loss record before the Roberts Court up to 68% (60 of 88 cases), which is significantly higher than its success with the Rehnquist Court of 56% (45 of 80 cases from 1994-2005), and much higher than its rate with the Burger Court, when the Chamber won only 43% of its cases (15 of 35 from 1981-1986).
This week will determine if the Chamber can complete its perfect season. In the health care case, the Chamber took no position on the individual mandate’s constitutionality, arguing only that if the Court strikes down the mandate, then the Court should strike down the entire Affordable Care Act. In the case of First American Financial Corporation v. Edwards, the Chamber is arguing that homebuyers should not be able to sue banks and title companies that violate federal anti-kickback laws.
To Learn More:
Developing: Court Rules in Chamber’s Favor in Every Case Decided So Far This Term (by Neil Weare, Constitutional Accountability Center)
Big Wins for Big Business: Themes and Statistics in the Supreme Court’s 2010‐2011 Business Cases (Constitutional Accountability Center) (pdf)
Florida Unions Withdraw from Banks that Support Chamber of Commerce (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
Insurance Industry Gave $86 Million to Chamber of Commerce to Oppose Health Care Bill (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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