Corporate Accountability

RELEASE: Big Business Powers Ahead with Another Successful Term at the Roberts Court in 2019-2020

U.S. Chamber of Commerce—seeking to cement a 6-3 pro–big business SCOTUS majority for decades—campaigns for President Trump’s nomination of Judge Barrett.

Washington, DC – Ahead of the new Supreme Court term set to begin Monday, October 5, the Constitutional Accountability Center today is releasing its analysis of the 2019-2020 term’s business cases, as seen through the prism of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s docket. For the past decade, CAC has tracked the Chamber’s performance at the Court, showing how dramatically more often the Court under Chief Justice John Roberts favors the interests of business—over workers, consumers, and the environment—versus comparable periods of the Court under the leadership of Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Chief Justice Warren Burger.

This analysis is particularly timely as President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have pressed ahead with the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the justice least likely to side with the Chamber in recent years, on the Court. The Issue Brief, Big Business Powers Ahead with Another Successful Term at the Roberts Court, is available here.

From the introduction:

The Supreme Court’s 2019-2020 Term, completed this July, saw the Court making major innovations to cope with the coronavirus pandemic—but one thing that did not change was its propensity for decisions benefiting corporate interests. The rate of victory that big business achieved this Term matched its long-term [70% win] record before the Roberts Court, and these wins included one landmark decision that may seriously hamper effective regulation of harmful business practices… Overall, this was a typically pro-corporate year at the Roberts Court. And with the Court’s moderate-to-liberal bloc reduced to three members after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—who was the Justice most likely to reject corporate-favored positions in recent years—there is reason to worry that the upcoming Term will be even more damaging for workers, consumers, and the environment.

CAC President Elizabeth Wydra said, “There is a crisis of legitimacy now facing the Supreme Court, and the future of the Affordable Care Act, access to abortion, and the fair adjudication of election disputes rightly dominate that discussion. But the Chamber’s full-throated campaign on behalf of Judge Barrett has only highlighted the Roberts Court’s overwhelming preference for big business, and how a 6-3 pro-big business majority could set back for decades progress on environmental protection, health and safety regulations, anti-discrimination protections, and fair treatment of workers and consumers.”

CAC Appellate Counsel Brian Frazelle, author of today’s Issue Brief, continued, “People should realize that it has been more than four years since the Supreme Court reversed a lower-court decision favoring corporate interests, although the Court has decided more than 70 business cases during that period. Far more often than not, the cases that the Court chooses to hear are those in which industry is urging the Court to reverse lower-court rulings that favored individuals or the government over corporate interests. And if history is a guide, with a 6-3 pro-Chamber majority, the Roberts Court will be only too willing to comply, further shaping the law to benefit big business.”

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Resources:

CAC Issue Brief in its Corporations and the Supreme Court series, “Big Business Powers Ahead with Another Successful Term at the Roberts Court | 2019-2020 Term,” Brian Frazelle, October 1, 2020: https://www.theusconstitution.org/think_tank/big-business-powers-ahead-with-another-successful-term-at-the-roberts-court-2019-2020-term/

“QUICK TAKE: The Chamber of Commerce at the Supreme Court: 2019-2020,” CAC blog, analysis by Brian Frazelle, July 6, 2020: https://www.theusconstitution.org/blog/quick-take-the-chamber-of-commerce-at-the-supreme-court-2019-2020/

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Constitutional Accountability Center (www.theusconstitution.org) is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.

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