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You Get What You Pay For


If you’re wondering why Donald Trump continues to operate without congressional oversight, no matter how much evidence of misconduct emerges, when any two Republican senators (including ones who are retiring and/or on their deathbeds) could caucus with Dems and open up investigations with the House still safely in Republican hands…well, here you go:

We have long monitored big business’s success in the Supreme Court by tracking cases in which the United States Chamber of Commerce submits friend-of-the-court briefs to advance its deregulatory agenda. The Chamber filed briefs in ten cases decided this Term, and it prevailed in nine of those cases. This remarkable 90% victory rate is the Chamber’s highest in six years.

All told, since Justice Samuel Alito joined Chief Justice John Roberts on the bench in 2006, the Chamber has won over 70% of its cases. That commanding record before the Roberts Court stands in sharp contrast to the Chamber’s 56% success rate before the late Rehnquist Court (1994 to 2005) and its 43% success rate before the late Burger Court (1981 to 1986).

It’s no mystery why business interests now fare so well before the Court. Its conservative Justices share an ideology that prizes limited government over regulation and the ability to vindicate individual rights. And that translates into a thumb on the scale for corporate interests in case after case.


As for the voting records of individual Justices, Neil Gorsuch has quickly supplanted his colleagues as corporate America’s most stalwart ally on the Court. For years, Justice Alito held that distinction, siding with the Chamber’s position 75% of the time. His longtime conservative colleagues have just barely lagged behind him, with Justice Kennedy at 74%, Chief Justice Roberts at 73%, and Justice Thomas at 71%. In last year’s report, we noted that Gorsuch sided with the Chamber in all five cases in which he participated (a worrisome sign consistent with his pro-business record as a lower court-judge), but we cautioned that it would be premature to infer too much from this small sample size.

A year later, however, it’s clear that Justice Gorsuch has been a sound return on investment for the business interests that cheered and bankrolled (often anonymously) the campaign for his confirmation. Of the 15 Chamber cases in which he has participated, Justice Gorsuch sided with the Chamber in 14, meaning that he has supported the Chamber with 93% of his votes. By comparison, the figures for the Court’s more liberal members range from Justice Ginsburg’s 46% up to Justice Kagan’s 55%. Plainly, the corporate lawyers predicting last year that Gorsuch would advance the Court’s “pro-business conservative trajectory” have been proven right—and then some.

If you think that the primary goal of the Supreme Court is to provide policy victories to interests that are already massively overrepresented in other institutions, you’re going to really love this next iteration of the Roberts Court, sponsored by Koch Industries.

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