People For the American Way Foundation

The Rise of the Corporate Court: How the Supreme Court is Putting Business First


Contact: Drew Courtney or Josh Glasstetter at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

From Bush v. Gore to Citizens United: The Making of a Corporate Democracy

People For the American Way Foundation today released “The Rise of the Corporate Court: How the Supreme Court is Putting Business First.” The report exposes the undue deference the Supreme Court has paid to corporations at the expense of the legal rights of individuals.

More and more, the Supreme Court has become a political ally of big business,” said Michael B. Keegan, President of People For the American Way Foundation. “Constitutional principles and laws enacted by Congress that protect ordinary Americans are being torn asunder. Under our laws and our Constitution everyone, including big business, should be held accountable for their actions. This Court seems all too willing to let the privileged and the powerful prevail over the rights of individual Americans.”

Some of the cases highlighted in the report include:

  • Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (2007), in which the Court protected corporations from lawsuits brought by victims of sex discrimination
  • AT&T v. Hulteen (2009), which allowed corporations to discriminate against women who took maternity leave in calculating pensions
  • Gross v. FBL Financial Services (2009), which made it easier for corporations to defend against age-discrimination suits
  • Hoffman Plastic Compounds v. NLRB (2002), which helped corporations knowingly take advantage of undocumented workers
  • Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker (2008), which arbitrarily reduced penalties to be paid by Exxon after it allowed a known alcoholic to captain the Exxon Valdez through the dangerous Prince William Sound, resulting in a catastrophic, 53-million-gallon oil spill
  • Entergy Corp. v. Riverkeeper, Inc. (2009), which allowed corporate polluters to use cut-rate methods of minimizing toxic output
  • Coeur Alaska, Inc. v. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (2009), which allowed corporations to pour mining waste called “slurry discharge” directly into lakes despite EPA rules forbidding it
  • Philip Morris USA v. Williams (2007), which limited the penalties paid by tobacco companies for causing millions of cancer deaths even when juries decided otherwise
  • Citizens United v. FEC (2010), which gave corporations the ability to pour billions of dollars into elections for local, state, and federal office

“The right-wing voting bloc on the Supreme Court brought a pro-corporate political ideology to the bench,” said Keegan. “Now they’re acting on it. It’s only natural for corporations to win some of the cases they bring to the Court. But the pattern of pro-corporate decisions made by this Court is unmistakable. The right-wing Justices on the Court have been forcing a pro-corporate ideology into the law. Americans who care about our Constitution and our democracy should be deeply disturbed by this trend.”

You can read the report here.