The Pro-Business Roberts Court Is Striking Out

March 1st, 2011

Today was a doozy for those that allege that the Roberts Court has a pro-business/anti-individual agenda. Three opinions all benefited individuals.

In FCC v. AT&T Inc. Chief Justice Roberts, the great illusionist, wrote for a unanimous Court that corporations do not possess personal privacy rights under FOIA.

In Henderson v. Shinseki, Justice Alito writing for a unanimous Court found that a statute of limitations applied to veterans filing appeals is not jurisdictional, thus leaving open such options as “equitable tolling.”

In Staub v. Proctor Hospital, Justice Scalia writing for 6 members expanded the ability of employees to sue their employers under USERRA under the “cat’s paw” theory. Justice Alito, joined by Justice Thomas, concurred in judgment, and would have reached the same result through reference to the statutory text, rather than to principles of agency law.

Last week in Williamson v. Mazda Motor of America, Inc., the Court unanimously found that a California car-safety law was not pre-empted.

In January in Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP, Justice Scalia wrote for a unanimous Court, and found that Title VII’s ban on workplace retaliation against an employee who challenges discrimination also protects a co-worker who is a relative or close associate of the targeted employee.

I’m just not buying this pro-business meme. These are all unanimous opinions that are in no sense pro-business.