Sunday, December 19, 2010

Corporate Takeover: An Update

 Back in October I wrote in a post, Corporate Takeover, about a study by the Constitutional Accountability Center, which concluded that the current conservative majority is significantly more likely to favor corporate interests than the most pro-corporate member of the Court twenty-five years ago.  A front page article in today's Times by Adam Liptak, Justices Offer Receptive Ear to Business Interests, cites this study, as well as a new one by scholars at Northwestern and the University of Chicago, which analyzed decisions since 1953 and concluded "that the a percentage of business cases on the Supreme Court docket has grown in the Roberts years, as has the percentage of cases won by business interests." 

The Times' article details the various influences on the Court that have led to this result, and does a particularly effective job in demonstrating the the role played by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in getting the Court to hear business cases and to rule in favor of business interests.  Remarkably, however, the article ignores the Justices themselves and their active involvement in conservative and  pro-corporate causes.  This allows Liptak to conclude that despite the studies' numbers, "determining whether the Supreme Court is 'pro-business or anti-business' can be difficult."

Hardly.  In Activist Judges, I wrote about Justice Samuel Alito attending a major fundraising event for the notorious right wing magazine American Spectator.  As ThinkProgress reported, Alito was also the headliner at its annual gala in 2008, and has been involved in other fundraising events for conservative groups.  I also cited a ThinkProgress report that "Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas have also attended secret political fundraisers."  Such activities would have violated the Code of Conduct for United States Judges except for the fact that the Justices have exempted themselves from these ethical rules which govern other federal judges.  Nevertheless, the Justices' participation in activities supporting these conservative groups calls into serious question their impartiality, and undermines the notion suggested in the Times article that the statistics do not conclusively establish the pro-business leanings of the present Court.


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