By David Franklin, an associate professor at DePaul University College of Law and author of the new ACS Issue Brief, Why Does Business (Usually) Win in the Roberts Court?
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that people who are injured or killed by the side effects of vaccines cannot sue vaccine manufacturers for alleged design defects. Another day, another victory in the Supreme Court for a business defendant - and another victory for preemption, the legal doctrine under which state law can be nullified when it conflicts with the language or purpose of federal law, in this case the 1986 federal vaccine compensation statute.
It was also yet another victory for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States. The Chamber, through its litigating affiliate, the National Chamber Litigation Center, regularly files briefs as an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") in the Supreme Court on behalf of the business community - and it regularly prevails.
In a recent ACS Issue Brief, I crunch the numbers. Since Samuel Alito became a justice in 2006, the Court has decided 66 cases in which the Chamber of Commerce filed a brief. Of these cases, the party supported by the Chamber has won 46. That's a very high win rate: just under 70 percent. It suggests that while the arguments in the Chamber's briefs probably aren't swaying the justices (amicus briefs rarely do), they are finding a receptive audience at One First Street.
Why has the Chamber been doing so well lately?