Is the current Supreme Court “pro-business?” That assertion has been made with increasing frequency, most recently in a New York Times article headlined “Corporations Find a Friend in the Supreme Court.”
The charge hearkens back to the time when the Warren Court was called “pro-defendant” because it frequently ruled in favor of criminal defendants in cases involving claims under the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments and “anti-religion” because of its interpretations of the First Amendment’s religion clauses. Then, as now, those unhappy with the court’s rulings depicted the court as an unprincipled, result-oriented institution—using the court as a foil to increase support for the critics’ political goals.
While a useful and interesting quantitative analysis, the new study thus says little or nothing about the overall jurisprudential effect of the court’s decisions.
Nonetheless, the New York Times article moves from a discussion of the study to the assertion by Professor Arthur Miller that the court’s “general track record” has been “decidedly pro-business,” with the supposed result that “businesses are free to run their operations without fear of liability for the harm they cause to consumers, employees and people injured by their products.”