Corporate Accountability

RELEASE: In New Term, Chamber of Commerce Poised to Exploit Supreme Court’s Ideological Divide

After a term that saw it win “only” 62% of its cases, the Chamber seeks a return to its frequent stratospheric victory rates in the Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts.

WASHINGTON – Constitutional Accountability Center is releasing the latest in its annual series of Issue Briefs on the performance of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts. Titled A Muted Term Belies a Supreme Court Deeply Polarized on Corporate Power, it examines the Chamber’s record in the 2018-2019 term and looks to the term ahead, set to begin Monday.

Read the Issue Brief here.

“Last term, in the wake of the bruising battle to confirm Justice Kavanaugh, Chief Justice Roberts and his colleagues had an incentive to find common ground—in Chamber cases and elsewhere on the docket,” said CAC Appellate Counsel Brian Frazelle. “In several key cases, the Chamber lost the votes of one conservative justice or another, leading to surprise defeats for corporate interests. Overall, though, the numbers were clear—this Court is sharply divided between the pro-corporate record of its conservative wing and the moderate record of its more liberal wing. And even in an off year, the Chamber still won nearly two-thirds of its cases last term.”

“This term, however, could bring a return to the Chamber’s frequent, astonishingly high win rates—80%, 90%, even 100% in some terms—with the help of the five conservative appointees,” continued CAC President Elizabeth Wydra. “Relative to comparable periods in the Burger and Rehnquist Courts, the Roberts Court is the most pro-corporate Court in modern American history, and President Trump’s appointments to the Court are likely to worsen the trend. Justice Gorsuch, for example, has established himself as the most corporate-friendly Justice on the bench by far, giving the Chamber 86% of his total votes since joining the Court in 2017. The consequences of such friendly treatment for the Chamber this term could prove dire for workers, consumers, and the environment.”

In the new term, the Roberts Court will hear cases involving race discrimination in contract formation; compelling polluters to adequately clean up toxic contamination; three separate cases about individuals’ ability to sue their employer-sponsored pension funds for misconduct; and the scope of federal prohibitions on polluting the nation’s waters. In addition, the Chamber is supporting petitions for certiorari that involve class action rules, industry rights-of-way through the national forests, and the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, among others.

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Resources:

A Muted Term Belies a Supreme Court Deeply Polarized on Corporate Power, CAC Issue Brief, Brian R. Frazelle, October 3, 2019: https://www.theusconstitution.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/CORPORATIONS-AND-THE-SUPREME-COURT-2018-2019-Term.pdf

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

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