So maybe the Roberts Court isn’t so pro-business

March 12th, 2011

David Savage echoes a number of points I made in this post (which has been linked at Reason, Text and History Blog, and Washington Legal Foundation), noting that the Supreme Court’s vaunted reputation as a pro-corp ‘ orate body hasn’t exactly panned out this term. Savage quotes a few legal experts noting that this myth just aint working out.


It “demonstrates the court isn’t reflexively pro-corporate and conservative,” said Washington lawyer Thomas Goldstein. He called the rulings involving the fired workers and the auto safety suit “very significant.”

“The term so far explodes the most extreme form of the ‘pro-corporate’ myth,” said Roy Englert, an attorney who has won and lost business cases in the high court.

Doug Kendall, echoing a point made on the Constitutional Accountability Blog, (which cited my above post) encourages us to reserve judgment till later in the term.

Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, has criticized the Roberts court for its pro-business leanings, and he doubted the recent rulings were the start of a new trend. “We have to wait and see what the court does in the most contested areas like arbitration and campaign finance,” he said.

Business and consumer-rights advocates are closely watching two cases on class-action suits. One of them, from California, tests whether cheated consumers can unite in a class-action suit. The other tests whether Wal-Mart can be sued by more than 1.5 million women who once worked there.

I didn’t particularly care for this part of the article that made great hay about the fact that the conservative Justices are also Catholic. I wonder if a similar point about liberal Jewish Justices would fly?

But this month’s free-speech ruling in favor of funeral picketers undercuts the notion that these decisions reflect the personal sympathies of the justices. The father of a dead Marine had sued because he said he was deeply offended by publicity-seeking protesters who turned his son’s funeral into a “circus.” The picketers carried anti-military and anti-Catholic signs outside the family’s Catholic church. Signs read “Pope in hell” and “Priests in hell.”

Yet the justices, including its conservative Catholics, sided with the protesters and rejected the jury verdict in the father’s favor. The 1st Amendment “protects even hurtful speech,” the chief justice said, and “that choice requires that we shield” the protesters.