The United States Supreme Court of the Chamber of Commerce


Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

This session the record is 7-1.  Since October of 2011, the record is 28 wins and 4 losses. That is a record that any team would be proud of and evidence of a significant amount of work and effort to improve its performance on the court.  However, I am not talking about any particular basketball team currently involved in March Madness and the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball tourney.

I am talking about the record a team called The United States Chamber of Commerce has in cases it has argued or filed a brief in front of the Supreme Court.  Even Coach K or Coach Izzo would be jealous of that record.

“Since 2010, Constitutional Accountability Center has been tracking the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s record before the Supreme Court, closely analyzing each case with Chamber involvement and publishing our findings.  These reports – typically released at the end of each Term – have documented the Chamber’s rather astounding success before the Roberts Court.  For instance, since the beginning of October Term 2011, the Chamber has won a staggering 88% of its cases overall (28 wins and 4 losses).” Constitutional Accountability Center

I guess I should not be surprised at how successful the Chamber has been in cases in front of the Supreme Court, but I am old enough to remember that the Chamber of Commerce and other business entities and interests did not always have such astounding records in front of the Supreme Court. The Rehnquist Court decided in favor of US Chamber of Commerce cases only 56% of the time while the Roberts Court is currently favoring the Chamber of Commerce at a 72% rate.

The Constitutional Accountability Center also tells us that the Burger Court found in favor of the Chamber of Commerce only 43% of the time.

The following chart from the Constitutional Accountability Center describes the success rate more dramatically:

What could cause this impressive winning percentage for the Chamber of Commerce in cases it has argued or filed an amicus brief?  Could it be politics creeping into the decision making process of the Justices?  Does the Chamber have an overwhelmingly better legal staff than many of its opponents in these cases? If the Roberts Court continues to favor Chamber cases at its current rate of 72% or its 88% success rate since 2011, could the success rate itself be a deterrent to people attempting to have their cases heard in the top court of the land?

The current term of the Supreme Court still has 6 cases to be decided where the Chamber of Commerce is involved. When one reads of these heady success rates by the Chamber of Commerce, it should make people understand why nominations by Presidents to the Supreme Court are so important.

It could also be argued that Chamber success rates that have been climbing in recent years is another reason why the Right has so frequently filibustered Judicial appointments of the Obama Administration. A pessimist could claim that Chamber money could keep flowing to Conservative candidates in order to maintain these lofty win/loss records.

Can individuals who are in litigation with Chamber backed opponents have any confidence that they have a legitimate chance of success if the case goes all the way to the Supreme Court?  I guess at the end of this term, when the remaining 6 cases have been decided, we will either have additional evidence that the Chamber has a firm grip on the Supreme Court or evidence that the Supreme Court has softened its pro-Chamber proclivities.

Do you think the Chamber will maintain its Hall of Fame winning percentage? What can be done to insure that no one organization or group or individual has a lock on the Supreme Court?

Additional References: Constitutional Accountability Center, 2013 Report Constitutional Accountability Center, 2012 Report Think Progress

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38 thoughts on “The United States Supreme Court of the Chamber of Commerce

  1. I think the better analysis is not that the Chamber has a firm grip on the Supreme Court, but rather that various government entities have over-reached and been caught doing it.

  2. Who is surprised?

    SCOTUS is made up of judges whose track records favor corporations, incrementally diluting our civil rights in favor of stockholders, Obamacare the most recent, egregious example, paving the way for healthcare stockholders to very likely own 40 percent of GDP within a few short years. SCOTUS sided with stockholders in the case of “corporations are people,” the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and many, many more. Appointees to the court have transformed a governmental branch devoted to civil rights and personal liberties into a practitioner of discrimination, a protector of government, and a whore to big business, and these high and mighty people won’t even hear death penalty cases — in a land where the majority of people on death row are innocent. Most despicable, SCOTUS no longer protects the most vulnerable among us. Thanks to SCOTUS, the American economy is very rapidly becoming even more of a predator economy, corporate raptors forcing consumers below the surface like groundhogs.

  3. I hadn’t realized the US Chamber of Commerce was so influencial. Every local one I have seen was a joke. For a while they kept trying to get me to sign up with them and it seemed more like a club where members talked about how great they were.

    Thanks for pointing this out with the supremes

  4. Do you think the Chamber will maintain its Hall of Fame winning percentage? What can be done to insure that no one organization or group or individual has a lock on the Supreme Court?

    Insightful post rafflaw, and timely.

    The Chamber as you call it, has gone through an eerily similar morph to what our nation has gone through, and in a similar time frame (The Chamber of Corruption – 3).

    These coincidences aren’t.

  5. The Supreme Court is an extension of national chamber of commerce….. Financed by Koch originally but they were even too liberal at the time…. Now they are getting in line for the monies to be distributed…. Part of ALEC and soon will be the ACCLE which is a local version of Cities and Counties for ALEC…..

  6. What is the metric by which we measure our soceity by ? My measure is our life expectancy. What would you who post seek ? Money, goods ,friends, vacations, etc ? How about laws & a tax code that is understandable & equitable.

  7. I recall the uproar and anger when Justice Roberts came down on the side of the ACA. It actually makes sense as it favors a couple of huge powerful industries, health insurance and big pharma. It was interesting to see that soon after the Chamber of Commerce came out against defaulting on the Debt Ceiling, certain TeaPublicans backed down. Pretty powerful I’d say.

  8. I think the Chamber’s win average will increase. The Supreme Corporate Court is very aggressive in protecting the rights of the “uber mensch” In the country otherwise know as the corporations and notorious for limiting or stripping the rights of humans particularly women and workers unless of course it has to do with GUNS. Even if Obama gets another opportunity, god forbid, to fill another seat, his penchant for giving the GOP what they want and his clear corporatist leanings do not bode well for humans.

  9. The Chamber of Commerce success rate should come as no surprise. Outlining a plan for the rightwing’s attack on America, Lewis Powell declared that the judiciary is in many ways the most important branch of government to control, particularly the SCt, and therefore every effort should be made to take that it over.

    The Powell Memorandum, written to the head of the Chamber of Commerce in 1971, the year befoe Nixon appointed him the SCt, is a must read for anyone interested in how rightwing fringe groups, led by the Koch Bros. have seized power in America.

    Incidentally Schulte, the Koch Bros are the greatest threat to civil liberty this country has ever seen.

  10. rafflaw – the greatest threats to civil liberty is Barack Obama and Eric Holder. The Koch Bros. are a liberal strawman used to scare the under-informed liberal electorate that the right wing is a problem. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! The Koch Bros. might get you. Better lock your doors.

  11. PS,

    I am very scared of the thieving Koch Brothers….. Started out as a criminal enterprise still exists as one….

  12. Schulte: Obama and Holder do not have piles of pet coke, the waste product from tar sand extraction, sitting out in the open in my neighborhood allowing toxic dust to drift in the wind. The Koch Bros. do.

    The Koch Bros fund every think tank that’s dedicated to trouncing my liberties as a citizen and, not incidentally, as a consumer.

    Obama and Holder are Koch Bros.lackeys that serve as strawmen for paid flack attacks, like yours, to distract the focus of American voters.

    Obama and Holder will be gone in two years, while the Koch Bros. will continue to fund their destructive, deleterious policies.

    Koch Bros: strawmen or straws that stir the kool aid?

    BTW slick, you might want to pay closer attention to who’s posting what. You don’t want to look like a complete idiot.

  13. You do not think if it was a criminal enterprise the Obama administration and it minions would not shut it down long before now. Look at what Obama and his cronies in the IRS has done to conservative groups. They spend a faction of the money that George Soros does.

  14. Is it just me or does it seem like all of a sudden there are a whole slew of new commenters that sound like political operatives. I used to think that was bogus, not so much anymore. Money can buy anything.

  15. Schulte: FWI, Soros is dead for a couple of years now. Your group might want to update its talking points

    Plus, the House investigation determined that the IRS was looking into tax exempt groups across the board. In other words, not only did the IRS look at PACs for the rightwing fringe, but also progressive groups, like Friends of the Earth and the Center for Food Safety. You must be deliberately trying to obfuscate here; even someone parroting talking points couldn’t be so obtuse.

    Then again….

  16. In a “Pay to Play” system, who represents those that are poor who can’t afford to bribe government officials?

  17. “According to the report, these corporations employ former CIA, National Security Agency and FBI agents to engage in private surveillance work, which is often illegal in nature, but rarely, if ever, prosecuted.” (DemocracyNow)

  18. Wall Street Journal Channels U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Latest Attack on Class Actions
    March 6, 2014

    The Wall Street Journal trotted out well-worn myths, many provided by the conservative lobbying group the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to complain about the latest attack on class action lawsuits currently in front of the Supreme Court.

    On March 5, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Halliburton v. Erica P. John Fund, a case that could make it more difficult for a class of shareholder plaintiffs to file lawsuits against corporations who commit fraud. At issue in this case is the “fraud on the market” theory, which was established by the Court in a 1988 case called Basic v. Levinson. The fraud on the market theory unremarkably assumes that a company’s stock price reflects the information publicly available about that company — including any false statements made by the CEO or other corporate officer. The fraud on the market theory allows plaintiffs to form a class action and sue based on that fraud, which have artificially inflated the stock price.

    The WSJ, for its part, would like the Court to overturn Basic and get rid of this highly effective method of protecting everyday Americans from corporate fraud.

    In a March 6 editorial, the paper essentially repeated all of the Chamber’s talking points it presented at its February 28 event dedicated to the Halliburton lawsuit, including the idea that the only beneficiaries of securities litigation are plaintiffs lawyers, and that these class actions unfairly punish shareholders.

  19. geez guys can you use sources others than those supported by unions or George Soros? Do you have some unbiases sources for us to look at?

  20. Money can’t buy a personality that people will like either. Money can’t keep people from seeing through toxicity and hatefulness. The truth can’t be bought, it always comes to the surface, either sooner or later. One must merely be patient.

  21. So much for lifetime appointments to the bench.

    How many more decades will this chief justice be with us?

    Apparently more years than we have liberties left to spare.

    The crypto-fascists aren’t afraid of light anymore, they operate in broad daylight for those who care to see.

  22. How much evidence need surface before some whistleblower manages to blow the whistle on the intrinsic and inescapable deception that is inescapably an essential feature of any form of law in adversarial form?

    Sooner, if not later, the adversarial nature of the inherently tragic and inescapable deception of adversarial law will become the greatest adversary of adversarial law?

    Only after people wake up enough to grasp how adversarial law is adverse to life itself, and adverse to everything else, will a way to structure law and law enforcement in accord with biologically real human life?

    Adversarial law, as is true for any form of escalating reciprocal retaliation process, is ineluctably self-defeating and self-destroying.

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