Does the Roberts Court favor corporate interests?
While Supreme Court cases on social issues such as abortion or same-sex rights generate fierce emotion and high visibility, a much larger proportion of the cases before the court are business-related. The decisions in these disputes can affect a broad array of interests and exert a strong influence on the U.S. economy. Recent rulings have involved the reach of antitrust laws, definitions of copyright and patent rights, the spread of sports gambling and corporate political contributions. In its current term, the court will rule on cases dealing with the latitude of government regulators in interpreting congressional mandates, the legal responsibilities of e-retailers and the validity of arbitration clauses for independent contractors.
Some key takeaways:
The Supreme Court grants full review to only about 80 of the more than 7,000 petitions it receives annually.
Some legal experts believe the court’s rulings have been friendlier to business interests since John Roberts became chief justice in 2005, although there is debate about what is behind this trend.
President Trump’s appointees to the high court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, are expected to reinforce the pro-business trend, based on their records as appeals court judges.
Resources for Further Study
Adler, Jonathan H., ed., “Business and the Roberts Court,” Oxford University Press, 2016. Legal academics examine a variety of issues regarding the Supreme Court’s approach to business cases under Chief Justice John Roberts.
Greenfield, Kent, “Corporations Are People Too (And They Should Act Like It),” Yale University Press, 2018. A law professor examines the impact of the landmark Citizens United campaign finance case and the advent of what is known as “corporate personhood,” arguing that new rules are necessary that would require businesses to act more like citizens.
“The Supreme Court’s Banner Year,” The Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2018, http://tinyurl.com/
Adler, Jonathan H., “In search of the ‘pro-business’ court,” The Washington Post, Sept. 22, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Dlouhy, Jennifer A., et al., “Kavanaugh Could Usher In Even More Business-Friendly Era on Supreme Court,” Bloomberg, July 10, 2018, http://tinyurl.com/
Posner, Eric, “The Far-Reaching Threats of a Conservative Court,” The New York Times, Oct. 23, 2018, http://tinyurl.com/
Wells, Nick, and Mark Fahey, “The US Supreme Court is more friendly to businesses than any time since World War II,” CNBC, March 1, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Winkler, Adam, “Why big business keeps winning at the Supreme Court,” The Washington Post, June 26, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Woellert, Lorraine, “Business looks to Kavanaugh to extend Supreme Court hot streak,” Politico, Aug. 15, 2018, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
Frazelle, Brian R., “A Banner Year for Business as the Supreme Court’s Conservative Majority Is Restored | October Term 2017,” Constitutional Accountability Center, June 17, 2018, http://tinyurl.com/
Shapiro, Ilya, and Frank Garrison, “What Kind of a Judge Is Neil Gorsuch?” Cato Institute, March 22, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
Eidelson, Josh, “Kavanaugh Sided With Trump Casino in 2012 to Thwart Union Drive,” Bloomberg, July 30, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Goldstein, Matthew, “Brett Kavanaugh Likely to Bring Pro-Business Views to Supreme Court,” The New York Times, July 10, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Woellert, Lorraine, “Trump asks business groups for help pushing Kavanaugh confirmation,” Politico, July 9, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Higgins, Tucker, “The Supreme Court could make it harder for workers to sue over issues like sexual harassment and pay discrimination,” CNBC, Oct. 29, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Njus, Elliot, “Sweet Cakes owners appeal to U.S. Supreme Court,” The Oregonian, updated Oct. 25, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Schilling, Sara, “The Arlene’s Flowers case is back in the state Supreme Court – here’s why,” The Seattle Times, Nov. 15, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
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