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Monday, April 8, 2013

Big business knows who its friends are

Our First Monday video, Unequal Justice is subtitled, The Relentless Rise of the 1% Court. In case even more evidence is needed to show that the current Supreme Court majority is very, very friendly to corporate special interests, consider some data compiled by Adam Chandler for SCOTUSblog. The topic: the organizations most interested in having the Supreme Court hear a case in the first place.

Before the Supreme Court can decide a case it has to decide whether to hear it at all. The side that wants the case heard submits a brief requesting a writ of certiorari - that is, a decision to hear the case. The other side submits a brief urging the Court to turn the case down. Nearly 99 percent of the time, the Court says no.

Just as when cases are argued on the merits, groups who feel they have an interest in the outcome may submit amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs.

As you would expect, the groups most active in filing such briefs asking the Supreme Court to hear cases are the groups with the most confidence their side will win. And who are those groups? They include the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the American Bankers Association, the National Association of Manufacturers and, in first place, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

This is the second time Chandler has run these numbers. He sees a trend:
Overall, the ideological cast of the new entrants [among the top filers] is more conservative, anti-regulatory, and pro-business than that of those they replaced. To varying degrees, all seven of the new entrants have conservative profiles, whereas several of those left off the list this year, like the Society of Professional Journalists and the National League of Cities, have no obvious ideological bent. Five years ago, I wrote that “the list of top amici is dominated by pro-business and anti-regulatory groups—such groups hold over half the slots in the top sixteen.” Now they hold over three-quarters.
Big business is glad to be “friends of the court.” And the Supreme Court majority is glad to return the favor.

Click on the link to the right, under "First Monday Films" to see AFJ’s video, Unequal Justice: The Relentless Rise of the 1% Court.

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