A new People For the American Way Foundation report, The Citizens United Era: How the Supreme Court Continues to Put Business First, examines how the Supreme Court’s ultra conservative majority is working to reshape our Constitution and elevate corporate interests above the rights of individual Americans. Beginning with the 2010 decision in Citizens United, the Roberts Court has handed down a steady stream of decisions that allow enormous corporations to benefit at the expense of ordinary Americans. The report is available here.
Since deciding in 2010 in Citizens United that corporations have the same free speech First Amendment rights as people to spend money on influencing elections, the Roberts Court has continued to bend the law and the constitution to side with corporations and their profit-making over individual rights. The most recent Supreme Court term brought a steady stream of decisions favoring wealthy special interests and CEOs over voters, consumers, workers, doctors, patients, whistle-blowers and shareholders. As a result, the Supreme Court is steadily eroding the individual protections enshrined in the Constitution and has fundamentally damaged a core pillar of our democracy: fairness under the law.
The report identifies the most egregious decisions in the last term that stack the deck in favor of corporate power and against the rights of individual people, including:
Ø Sorrell v. IMS Health Inc., which allowed pharmacies and insurance companies to sell private prescription information to pharmaceutical companies
Ø Pliva, Inc. v. Mensing, which endangers patients by protecting generic drug companies from having to warn consumers about known risks
Ø Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC, which protects drug companies from accountability when their childhood vaccines have avoidable design defects
Ø AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, which limited class action lawsuits against companies that illegally take advantage of their customers
Ø Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, which makes it much harder to have class action suits against large companies with systemic, nationwide discriminatory practices
Ø J. McIntyre Machinery, LTD. V. Nicastro, which shields certain foreign corporations from rightful claims by American citizens.
“Congress and the states have enacted laws to protect the rights of ordinary people, but the Roberts Court is systematically casting them aside,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way Foundation. “Last year’s term showed this Supreme Court’s true colors. In case after case, the Court has put corporate interests above the rights of individual Americans. The Supreme Court is supposed to protect the rights of everyone, but they’ve already picked their winner.”
“The 2010-2011 Supreme Court term was a blowout victory for powerful CEOs and large corporations against the simple requests for fair treatment brought by mere citizens, states, consumers, workers, company whistle-blowers, doctors, patients, parents and corporate shareholders. The recent term keeps the newly minted ‘corporate Americans’ on top in nearly every way and keeps ordinary American citizens on the losing end of major struggles with corporate power. The Roberts Court continues to topple precedent, remake the Constitution and distort the rule of law in order to obtain positive results for its favored parties.”
The report is available here.