Supreme Court

More Evidence that the Supreme Court Isn't Pro-Business


The Harlan Institute's Josh Blackman notes that the allegedly pro-business Supreme Court handed down two more decisions yesterday that won't make big business very happy:

In Kasten v. Saint-Gobain, Justice Breyer, writing for a 6 member majority, including Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, expanded the ability of an employee to file a complaint under the FLSA [Fair Labor Standards Act]. Now the complaint can be in writing, or oral. Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Thomas dissented (Justice Kagan secured).

In Matrixx Initiatives v. Siracusano, Justice Sotomayor writing for a unanimous Court found that plaintiffs have stated a claim for securities fraud under the Securities and Exchange Act and SEC Rule 10b-5 based on a company's failure to disclose reports adverse events associated with a product, even if the reports do not disclose a statistically significant number of adverse events.

The Los Angeles Times' David Savage concurs:

The decisions continue a trend of late in which the high court has confounded its critics by siding with workers and plaintiffs in business cases. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been on the winning side in only one case decided this year, while suffering five losses.
In recent years, liberal groups have labeled the high court pro-corporate, citing in particular last year's ruling that gave corporations and unions the right to spend freely on campaign ads. But this year, the justices have been sending a different message.

I challenged the simplistic myth of a pro-corporate Supreme Court last week.

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  1. (Justice Kagan secured)

    What, they locked her up?

    1. Well she still isn’t sure whether she can opine as to any matters pending before the Court, so for now she’s just securing her seat on the Court.

      1. So she voted “Present?”

    2. Yeah, I’m guessing that was meant to be “recused”?

  2. Yes, you challenged the simplistic myth of a pro-corporate Supreme Court last week. Here’s what you said:
    “The reality is that the Supreme Court reaches its decisions through a complicated and frequently shifting mix of the justices’ judicial philosophies, political ideologies, and personal quirks. “

    The short version: “It’s complicated.”

    Either way, you also (correctly) aren’t saying they are anti-business. Most of the time, it’s hard to figure out what they are.

    But, in general the court is center-right to right, and so are their decisions. Therefore, in general, their decisions will tend to be more pro-business than a leftist court. So far, that’s been true. In general.

    At times the SCOTUS can be impossible to predict. I guess all things considered, checks and balances, etc., that’s a good thing…?

    1. No, that’s a bad thing, but that’s also predictable. All people except lawyers benefit by the law’s being easily predictable. Lawyers benefit by the law’s being unpredictable, difficult to figure out. Judges are lawyers. Sup. Ct. justices are judges.

  3. Again, the quotes from Blackman and Savage indicate a group result oriented outlook on what the SCOTUS does rather than on wheteher their decisions being good interpretations of the law and constitution. They are not supposed to be on any group’s side permanently. They are supposed to be on the side of the law.

  4. The decisions continue a trend of late in which the high court has confounded its critics by siding with workers and plaintiffs in business cases simply applying the law as written, rather than disingenuously intepreting the law to arrive at a desired result.

    Yeah, that confounds the libs and progressives.

  5. The justices are not supposed to “side with” a particular category of litigants merely because they are in that category. So, for example, they don’t “side with business” merely because the defendant in a case is “business”, anymore than they “side with the little guy” merely because the plaintiff is a little guy.

    Rather, they side with the litigant whose position is in alignment with the justice’s understanding and intepretation of the law at issue.

    As Roberts said in his confirmation hearing, “if the law says the little guy wins, then the little guy wins; if the law says the big guy wins, then the big guy wins.”

    Too many people expect the SCOTUS to rule based on who should win rather than who the law dictates actually does win.

    By the same token, if the answer to the dispute were so simple and obvious, by and large, it wouldn’t make it all the way to the SCOTUS.

  6. There is a story (perhaps apocryphal) Justice O. W. Holmes and Judge Learned Hand had lunch together and afterward, as Holmes began to drive off in his carriage, Hand suddenly called after him “Do justice, sir, do justice.” Holmes stopped the carriage and replied: “That is not my job. It is my job to apply the law.”

    Say what you want about Holmes, he at least had that right. If injustice results, the legislature needs to change the law. Too often, Congress abdicates to the Court to straighten it out.



    Since when is SCOTUS supposed to be Republican? OhioOrrin apparently doesn’t have a clue about how “a nation of laws” is supposed to work. I suspect that he’d prefer the tyrany of the majority as long as he was in the majority.

  9. Like they actually care when throwing out labels.

  10. The Supreme Court isn’t pro-business? My goodness, is that wrong. Part of my job is to track the court’s labor decisions, 41 of them in the last eight years. Employers have won 37.

    You wouldn’t make much money in Vegas betting against employers in labor cases at the Supreme Court.

    1. Oh yea reality. We almost forgot you were there.

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