Thursday, May 2, 2013

Does the Chamber of Commerce Own the Supreme Court

Corporate America HQ: Yes, No, Not Sure???

Chairman and Board of Directors (err, court and Justices)???


Attend the opening session of the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) you would hear:  "Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this Honorable Court." 

I have to say right up front that I am a huge fan of the highest court in the land and I love the law and constitution and often cite case law and rulings. But, (always a but, isn't there), but, recent events and rulings seem to reinforce again the fact that we have a 5-4 divided court now and forever, or so it seems. And, one that more and more leans to the Corporate side.

Now to the corporate-leaning story that got my attention from MSNBC News.  A few highlights based on the facts:

Background: "In 1971, Lewis Powell, a well-connected corporate lawyer, wrote a confidential memo to an official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The American economic system is under broad attack,” Powell warned, by everyone from “New Leftists and other revolutionaries” to academics, the media, and politicians. It was time for the right, and the Chamber itself, to fight back. And among the tactics the Chamber should employ, Powell wrote, was an aggressive push to shift the federal courts in a pro-business direction." (emphasis is mine)

Six years later the Chamber got it wish and Powell (appointed by Richard Nixon for the next 15 years) himself was sitting on the highest bench. Talk about irony - ouch...

The heart of this issue is plain and simple — the latest evidence of just how successful that effort has been can be found in this report by the Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC), a liberal judicial group, from which MSNBC got an exclusive first look at events since the start of the Roberts Court in 2005. In that report we can see that Chamber of Commerce has won more than two-thirds of the cases in which it’s gotten involved.

Now by legal score keeping and their point of view, that's a damn good record of wins vs. loses as it were. But dig deeper and one can see the impact on Main Street America and not just things that benefit the winner.

The bottom line as legal scholars say, has been a string of rulings that threaten to block the courthouse door to ordinary Americans looking to hold corporations accountable. That is my concern.

I am not anti-business, big or small, but I am concerned by the rich and powerful have the benefits that average, hard-working Americans don't have because of their "class, status, or political or legal ties and access." No matter the ruling, case, or issue fairness and equality under the law is the issue.

"Equal Justice Under Law" is the phrase engraved on the front of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington DC. Sadly, as this piece points out that may only apply to the well-connected and that is not equal. It may be "right (the political right") but it's certainly not fair or equal.

FYI:  For more detailed reading of the Court check their blog at SCOTUS blog.com.

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