Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) used her remarks at the 2013 American Constitution Society for Law and Policy National Convention to warn that the Supreme Court is being captured by interests representing America’s biggest corporations:
Take a look at the win rate of the Chamber of Commerce. According to the Constitution Accountability Center, the Chamber moved from a 43 percent win rate during the very conservative Berger Court to a 56 percent win rate under the very conservative Rehnquist court. And now they are at a 70 percent win rate under the Roberts Court. Follow this pro-business trend to its obvious conclusion and you will end up with a Supreme Court that’s a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber of Commerce is the nation’s largest business lobby. In 2012, it spent over $100 million on lobbying, according to OpenSecret.com. Aligned with the dark money “social welfare” non-profits of the Koch brothers and Karl Rove, the Chamber helped raise and spend about one billion dollars to influence the 2012 elections.
But elections are far less reliable an investment than focusing on the courts.
“All told, the Chamber of Commerce has filed a whopping 18 amicus briefs this Term – just below its record number of 21 in October Term 2010,” according to Doug Kendall and Tom Donnelly of the Constitution Accountability Center. “Overall, the Court will likely decide 76 cases this Term, meaning that the Chamber will have participated in roughly 24 percent of the Court’s decided cases.”
Conservative Justices side with the Chamber 82 percent of the time.
The cases that matter to the Chamber aren’t generally the high-profile cases about civil rights, but rather quiet victories that swing justice in favor of corporations. They seek to defeat clean energy requirements and make it more difficult for consumers to file class action lawsuits — and they usually win.
Warren says that fighting back against the corporate takeover of the highest court in the land will not be easy.
“We are up against a conservative movement that for 30 years, since President Reagan, has dedicated itself to packing the courts with pro-business, anti-regulation conservative allies,” she said. “They are tough and they prepared.”
The fight begins, she said, with speaking out about what’s going on in the courts. The future of the Affordable Care Act, the Voting Rights Act and the country depend on it.