Supreme Court is more “Corporative” than Conservative

Tuesday, May 07, 2013
(cartoon: Adam Zygus, Buffalo News)

What stands out about the U.S. Supreme Court today isn’t its conservatism as much as its pro-business ideology, says new legal research.


In a paper published by the Minnesota Law Review, three legal experts concluded that the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is friendlier towards companies than any court since World War II.


This conclusion was reached after examining 2,000 decisions from 1946 to 2011.


After reviewing the court cases, researchers ranked 35 justices who served on the court during the span in question. The ranking revealed that five of the current court’s members made the top nine most likely to vote in favor of business interests since the mid-1940s. Samuel Alito placed first, Roberts second, Clarence Thomas fifth, Anthony Kennedy sixth and Antonin Scalia ninth. Justice Elena Kagan was not included in the study because she had not yet been involved in a statistically significant number of business-related decisions.


During the eight years of the Roberts court, justices have opened the way for corporations to spend freely on elections, protected businesses from class-action litigation and human rights lawsuits, and steered disputes towards arbitration.


According to Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the law school at the University of California, Irvine, “The Roberts court is the most pro-business court since the mid-1930s.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Corporations Find a Friend in the Supreme Court (by Adam Liptak, New York Times)

How Business Fares in the Supreme Court (by Lee Epstein, William M. Landes, and Richard A. Posner, Minnesota Law Review) (pdf)

Supreme Court Helps Corporations Protect Themselves against Human Rights Violations Overseas (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Aaron Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Supreme Court, 5-4, Cancels Montana’s 100-Year-Old Election Financing Law (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

Supreme Court Corporate Majority Blocks Arizona Public Campaign Finance Law (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Ken Broder, AllGov)

Corporate Block on Supreme Court Limits Class Action Suits (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Supreme Court Hearts Big Business (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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