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Minnesota Law Review: Corporatists on Supreme Court

US Supreme Court

A new study shows the degree to which the Roberts-led Supreme Court responds to corporate interests.

A recent study, published in the Minnesota Law Review, has found the Roberts Court extremely friendly to corporations. The study is significant, as it includes members of the status quo, including a professor of law and political science from USC, a professor of law and economics from the University of Chicago, and a judge from a U.S. Court of Appeals. The review is exhaustive, tallying 42 pages in length.

“In the eight years since Chief Justice Roberts joined the court, it has allowed corporations to spend freely in elections in the Citizens United case, has shielded them from class actions and human rights suits, and has made arbitration the favored way to resolve many disputes.

“Whether the Roberts court is unusually friendly to business has been the subject of repeated discussion, much of it based on anecdotes and studies based on small slices of empirical evidence. The new study, by contrast, takes a careful and comprehensive look at some 2,000 decisions from 1946 to 2011.”

This, from a synopsis in a New York Times article.

This review of the Supreme Court highlights the need for a serious discussion in the public forum on how we currently seat the Supreme Court. From my Scribd paper outlining desperately needed reforms at the federal level:

“Supreme Court: Direct election of Supreme Court justices, two-term limits, four years each term. Judgeship campaigns are not allowed to run on political party platforms, only on independent platforms.”

While the idea behind the presidential appointment of Supreme Court justices sought to maintain the court’s independence from political pressures, it is very clear the court has compromised that judicial independence with their decisions, particularly in the case of Citizens United. In my paper on federal reforms, I list a number of quotes from Jefferson who, during his lifetime, already recognized the problems stemming from the court’s structure as framed in the Constitution. It is time we reconsider the court’s seating.

Equally disconcerting are the opening paragraphs from The New York Times article:

“Not long after 10 a.m. on March 27, a restless audience waited for the Supreme Court to hear arguments in the second of two historic cases involving same-sex marriage. First, however, Justice Antonin Scalia attended to another matter. He announced that the court was throwing out an antitrust class action that subscribers brought against Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company.

“Almost no one in the courtroom paid attention, despite Justice Scalia’s characteristically animated delivery, and the next day’s news coverage was dominated by accounts of the arguments on same-sex marriage. That was no surprise: the Supreme Court’s business decisions are almost always overshadowed by cases on controversial social issues.” (emphasis added)

Conservative Christians are keeping the social issues in play in the voting booth and, as a result, at the Supreme Court as well. Evangelicals are considered easily duped by the conservative political elite, manipulated by social issues so that the powers-that-be can garner votes that are against the best interests of the middle class which, in the Midwest and South, include large swaths of Evangelicals. The elite use social issues as smoke screens, obscuring the substantive issues such as employment and returning to a functioning economy.

I can only hope we can slice and eat social issues. When the bread runs out, that’s all that will be left.

Photo by 350z33 released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.

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E.L. Beck

E.L. Beck