Sen. Warren Blasts Pro-Corporate Trend of Federal Courts

June 13, 2013

by Jeremy Leaming

The federal bench with the backing of lots of money from corporate America is unsurprisingly increasingly favorable to corporate interests and that fact is not likely to change unless balance is brought to the courts, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said at the 2013 ACS National Convention.

Sen. Warren ripped into the conservative movement that has spent 30-some years helping to craft courts that are kind to business interests at the great detriment to individual liberties.

“Here in Washington, power is not balanced,” Warren said on the opening day of the 2013 ACS Convention. “Instead, power is becoming more concentrated on one side. There are powerful, deep-pocketed corporate interests lined up to fight to protect their privilege and to resist any change that would limit corporate excesses.”

And corporate interests are spending boatloads of money to keep the federal courts on their side.

“These big corporate interests are savvy,” Warren continued. “They fight every day on Capitol Hill and in the agencies, devoting enormous resources to the task of bending legislation to benefit themselves.  But they also devote enormous resources toward influencing the courts.

“Why? Because they know that influencing those who interpret 

the law is another extremely effective way to achieve their goals.  In our democracy, when we write our laws, reasoned debate, public opinion, and political accountability are all factors that can thwart the efforts of powerful interests.”

And the money spent has paid off. Warren, citing an ACS study noted that as of 2008 the federal appeals courts have been “dominated by judges whose previous professional experience is generally corporate or prosecutorial.”

Though President Obama has placed some judges on the bench not in this trend, such as U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen, he has nonetheless continued to nominate persons with heavy corporate backgrounds.

Diversity of backgrounds needs to be a priority if the federal courts are going to provide impartial justice, instead of creating outcomes constantly favorable to corporate interests.

The pro-corporate interests are especially pronounced on the highest court in the land, where Warren noted the trend of favorable opinions for corporate interests.

“Data on the Supreme Court in recent years shows a heavy pro-corporate tilt,” Warren said. “The five conservative justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court are in the top ten most pro-business justices in a half century ….”

And the win-rate for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as this blog has noted often, continues to increase.

“Follow this pro-business trend to its logical conclusion, and sooner or later you'll end up with a Supreme Court that functions as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chamber of Commerce,” Warren said.

See a transcript of her entire speech here.