The Chamber and Wal-Mart: A Corporate Hijacking Of The Supreme Court
Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case in which millions of women have been trying to sue Wal-Mart for sex discrimination, ranging from “unequal pay, sexist remarks and insurmountable obstacles to promotion.” Unsurprisingly, throughout the almost 10 year legal process of the case, the U.S. Chamber has been one of Wal-Mart’s most steadfast supporters, having filed 7 amicus briefs favoring the corporation in the Wal-Mart v. Dukes case. Although the Chamber, and much of the mainstream media, will continue focusing on the fact that the Supreme Court’s particular decision involves a technical procedural issue concerning whether a case can go forward as a class action and not about “discrimination” per se, we already know just where the Chamber stands on “unequal pay” and “sexist remarks” – in favor of and willfully pedaling both.
Putting aside the implications of discrimination and advantage-taking that could be allowed by a corporation’s wrongdoing that is “too-big-to-sue”, the Alliance for Justice made a compelling observation that a win for Wal-Mart would certainly bolster a symbolic shift of the Roberts’ Supreme Court in favor of corporate interests, with the U.S. Chamber’s influence over the Court defining that shift:
Since 1953, corporate interests have won just 42 percent of the time in the Supreme Court, but that percentage has jumped to 61 percent in the Roberts Court, with three of the seven most pro-corporate terms occurring during Chief Justice Roberts’ first five years. Just last term, the Roberts Court ruled in favor of the side that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supported in 13 of 16 cases. The U.S. Chamber, and a wide array of other large corporate interests, have lined up on Wal-Mart’s side in this case.”
That’s right – a Supreme Court victory by the largest corporation in the world – would reaffirm “the perception…that the court is overly protective of the corporate world,” and solidify the concept that except for the solicitor general, “…no single entity has more influence on what cases the Supreme Court decides and how it decides them than the National Chamber Litigation Center,” as Chamber litigator Carter G. Phillips has said.
In August of 2007, NCLC’s Executive Vice President Robin Conrad said in a statement, “This has been our best Supreme Court term in 30 years…We submitted filings in more cases than ever this term, and we won more cases than ever.” It seems as if the Chamber is now claiming the Supreme Court for itself and presumably the major corporations that pay it to do so. After winning the Citizens United case last year, a win for Wal-Mart means that the Chamber will have given large corporations almost unbreakable power over the political, electoral process and the ability to remain unaccountable to their employees for the sake of profit.
The Chamber is right – this is about more than discrimination – it’s about the corporate hijacking of our democracy and an independent federal judiciary.