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Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Supreme Court continued its recent streak of favoring corporations over individuals and workers today, though this time the margin was anything but narrow:

The Supreme Court on Monday threw out the largest employment discrimination case in the nation’s history. The suit, against Wal-Mart Stores, had sought to consolidate the claims of as many as 1.5 million women on the theory that the company had discriminated against them in pay and promotion decisions.

The lawsuit sought back pay that could have amounted to billions of dollars. But the Supreme Court, in a decision that was unanimous on this point, said the plaintiffs’ lawyers had improperly sued under a part of the class action rules that was not primarily concerned with monetary claims.

The court did not decide whether Wal-Mart had in fact discriminated against the women, only that they could not proceed as a class. The court’s decision on that issue will almost certainly affect all sorts of other class-action suits, including ones asserting antitrust, securities and product liability violations.

Unlike Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that invalidated most of the McCain-Feingold finance rules and allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts on independent political activity, this is unlikely to become a major progressive rallying cry, and almost certainly won’t earn mention at the president’s State of the Union speech in January (as Citizens United did last year). But to the extent that women voters are key to Obama’s base–and that Walmart is anathema to the left–we shouldn’t be surprised if this one furthers the angst about corporate dominance in an era of conservative jurisprudence. [The New York Times]

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