New Study Says Supreme Court Majority Shows a Pro-Business Tilt

October 26, 2010

by Jeremy Leaming

In recent times the nation's largest business lobby, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has fared much better before the Supreme Court says a new study from the Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC).

The study, "A Tale of Two Courts: Comparing Corporate Rulings by the Roberts and Burger Courts," maintains that the Chamber's victories before the high court have increased since the ascendance of a five-member conservative majority on the high court. In a press statement about the study, CAC says that "under the leadership of Chief Justice Warren Burger, the Chamber lost more cases than it won (a percentage of 43%) and, perhaps even more important, there was no similar ideological division among the Justices in favor, or against, the Chamber's position. Justice Brennan, the Burger Court's liberal lion, voted for the Chamber 43% of the time; then-Justice Rehnquist voted for the Chamber 46% of the time."

Recently Justice Stephen Breyer told Bloomberg News that his own study of high court cases involving business interests did not show a pro-corporate bent. He maintained that business groups are not doing any better than they have in the past.

CAC President Doug Kendall told Bloomberg, "Justice Breyer's flat wrong in suggesting that the chamber has always done well before the court. The Supreme Court's modern pro-corporate tilt - and particularly its sharp ideological split in favor of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - are relatively new developments, traceable to the court's conservative majority."

Earlier this year, CAC issued a report that the Roberts Court's conservative wing more often than not sides with corporate interests. According to the study since the arrival of Justice Samuel Alito in 2006 a "cohesive five-justice majority on the Court has produced victories for the Chamber's side 64% of the cases overall, and 71% of closely divided cases."

CAC's study is available here.