July 24, 2008

Senators Criticize "Pro-Business" Supreme Court for Exxon Valdez and Other Decisions

As reported on LegalNewsline, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing yesterday entitled "Courting Big Business: The Supreme Court's Recent Decisions on Corporate Misconduct and Laws Regulating Corporations." Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy took the lead in chiding the Supreme Court for ruling in favor of businesses in several high profile cases.

As Patricia Ann Millett (a former attorney in the SG's office) notes in the article, however, it is a fallacy to say the Supreme Court favored corporate interests in its previous term. Over the past term, the Supreme Court decided 24 cases involving business concerns, and in those decisions, the Court split almost evenly, ruling in ways that could be described as pro-business in thirteen of the cases, and ruling against business interests in eleven cases.

A debate over whether the Supreme Court is actually pro-business has been raging for a while. See, for example, the New York Times Magazine article "Supreme Court Inc." by Jeffrey Rosen (contending the Supreme Court has shifted to a pro-business philosophy), and this Slate blog post by Eric Posner (contending the Court is pro-free-market, not pro-business).