Bush Appointees Have Made Supreme Court More Conservative, Pro-Business

NYT: In First Five Years Under Roberts, Supreme Court “Became The Most Conservative One In Living Memory.” According to the New York Times, “When Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and his colleagues on the Supreme Court left for their summer break at the end of June, they marked a milestone: the Roberts court had just completed its fifth term. In those five years, the court not only moved to the right but also became the most conservative one in living memory, based on an analysis of four sets of political science data.” [New York Times, 7/24/10]

The Roberts Court “Is The Most Conservative Since The Early 1970s.” According to Mother Jones, “By several measures, the court headed by Chief Justice John Roberts is the most conservative since the early 1970s, when Richard Nixon named Warren Burger to replace the famously liberal Earl Warren. Not only is its most conservative member (Clarence Thomas) nearly as conservative as the Burger court’s most conservative member (future Chief Justice William Rehnquist), its most liberal member (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) is considerably less liberal than previous justices on the left side of the spectrum.” [Mother Jones, 6/26/12]

Roberts Court “Far Friendlier To Business Than Those Of Any Court Since At Least World War II.” According to the New York Times, “While the current court’s decisions, over all, are only slightly more conservative than those from the courts led by Chief Justices Warren E. Burger and William H. Rehnquist, according to political scientists who study the court, its business rulings are another matter. They have been, a new study finds, far friendlier to business than those of any court since at least World War II. In the eight years since Chief Justice Roberts joined the court, it has allowed corporations to spend freely in elections in the Citizens United case, has shielded them from class actions and human rights suits, and has made arbitration the favored way to resolve many disputes. Business groups say the Roberts court’s decisions have helped combat frivolous lawsuits, while plaintiffs’ lawyers say the rulings have destroyed legitimate claims for harm from faulty products, discriminatory practices and fraud.” [New York Times, 5/5/13]

Alito and Roberts Are “The Two Justices Most Likely To Vote In Favor Of Business Interests Since 1946.” According to the New York Times, “Published last month in The Minnesota Law Review, the study ranked the 36 justices who served on the court over those 65 years by the proportion of their pro-business votes; all five of the current court’s more conservative members were in the top 10. But the study’s most striking finding was that the two justices most likely to vote in favor of business interests since 1946 are the most recent conservative additions to the court, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., both appointed by President George W. Bush.” [New York Times, 5/5/13]

Roberts Court Conservatives Are Increasingly Siding With Corporate Interests Represented By Chamber Of Commerce. According to the Constitutional Accountability Center, “Nonetheless, the Chamber had a banner term in terms of wins and losses, with the Chamber reaching the finish line with a perfect 7-0 win/loss record. Not since the October 1991 Term has the Chamber been undefeated before the Court.  But the Chamber’s undefeated streak only tells part of the story of the Chamber’s success this Term.  Just as striking is the fact that the Chamber went head to head against the Solicitor General and the Obama Administration five out of seven times, coming out on top every time.  This reflects a broader trend that the Court is becoming increasingly ideologically divided in cases that are important to corporate interests, with the Court’s conservative Justices taking the Chamber’s side at historic levels, particularly in close cases. […] Overall now the Chamber has prevailed in 68% of its cases before the Roberts Court (60 of 88 from 2006-2012). The Chamber’s success has grown significantly since the stable Rehnquist Court, when it was just 56% (45 of 80 cases from 1994-2005), and is dramatically higher than its success rate before the stable Burger Court, when it was just 43% (15 of 35 from 1981-86).”

increasing support

[Constitutional Accountability Center, 6/29/12, internal citations removed]

Roberts And Alito Both Joined 5-4 Majority In Citizens United, Opening Doors To Unlimited Corporate Money In Elections. According to UPI, “The much-criticized 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission came in January 2010. It swept away federal restrictions on independent ‘electioneering communications’ by corporations and unions, and similar restrictions in two dozen states. Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the political speech of corporations was protected by the First Amendment. That applied even if the funds corporation executives were spending in political races belonged to stockholders. […] The ruling did not mean corporations could contribute directly to candidates, only that they could make independent expenditures to support a candidate or party. If the money is used in ‘issue’ campaigns, corporate donors do not have to be disclosed.” According to the Washington Post, Roberts and Alito joined Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas in the majority. [UPI, 4/14/13; Washington Post, accessed 6/5/13]

Roberts And Alito Both Sided Against Lily Ledbetter In Equal Pay Case. According to the New York Times, “The Supreme Court on Tuesday made it harder for many workers to sue their employers for discrimination in pay, insisting in a 5-to-4 decision on a tight time frame to file such cases. The dissenters said the ruling ignored workplace realities. The decision came in a case involving a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire plant in Gadsden, Ala., the only woman among 16 men at the same management level, who was paid less than any of her colleagues, including those with less seniority. She learned that fact late in a career of nearly 20 years — too late, according to the Supreme Court’s majority. The court held on Tuesday that employees may not bring suit under the principal federal anti-discrimination law unless they have filed a formal complaint with a federal agency within 180 days after their pay was set. The timeline applies, according to the decision, even if the effects of the initial discriminatory act were not immediately apparent to the worker and even if they continue to the present day.” According to the Washington Post, Roberts and Alito joined Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas in the majority. [New York Times, 5/30/07; Washington Post, accessed 6/5/13]

NYT: Alito Confirmation Only Recent Replacement To Alter Ideological Makeup Of Supreme Court. According to the New York Times, “And for all the public debate about the confirmation of Elena Kagan or the addition last year of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, there is no reason to think they will make a difference in the court’s ideological balance. Indeed, the data show that only one recent replacement altered its direction, that of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006, pulling the court to the right. […] Chief Justice Rehnquist, a conservative, was replaced by a conservative. Justices Souter and Stevens, both liberals, have been or are likely to be succeeded by liberals.” [New York Times, 7/24/10]

Alito, Who Replaced Relatively Liberal O’Connor, Is Third-Most Conservative Justice Since 1937. According to the New York Times, “The point is not that Justice Alito has turned out to be exceptionally conservative, though he has: he is the third-most conservative justice to serve on the court since 1937, behind only Justice Thomas and Chief Justice Rehnquist. It is that he replaced the more liberal justice who was at the ideological center of the court.” [New York Times, 7/24/10]

NYT: Alito “Thrust Justice Kennedy To The Court’s Center And Has Reshaped The Future Of American Law.” According to the New York Times, “Though Chief Justice Roberts gets all the attention, Justice Alito may thus be the lasting triumph of the administration of President George W. Bush. He thrust Justice Kennedy to the court’s center and has reshaped the future of American law.” [New York Times, 7/24/10]

Alito’s Replacement Of O’Connor Yielded More Conservative Outcomes On Abortion And Race Cases. According to the New York Times, “The departure of Justice O’Connor very likely affected the outcomes in two other contentious areas: abortion and race. In 2000, the court struck down a Nebraska law banning an abortion procedure by a vote of 5 to 4, with Justice O’Connor in the majority. Seven years later, the court upheld a similar federal law, the Partial-Birth Abortion Act, by the same vote. […] In 2003, Justice O’Connor wrote the majority opinion in a 5-to-4 decision allowing public universities to take account of race in admissions decisions. And a month before her retirement in 2006, the court refused to hear a case challenging the use of race to achieve integration in public schools. Almost as soon as she left, the court reversed course. A 2007 decision limited the use of race for such a purpose, also on a 5-to-4 vote.” [New York Times, 7/24/10]

Roberts-Led Court Struck Down Key Component Of Voting Rights Act. According to Mother Jones, “The Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, ruling that the United States had sufficiently moved beyond its Jim Crow past and has rendered the law’s formulas unconstitutional. Writing for the conservative 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts, who has a long history of trying to undermine this law, struck down Section 4 of the act. This part of the law determines which states and counties must adhere to strict guidelines governing any change to their voting laws. (The point of this provision is to prevent regions that have a history of fiddling with voting laws to discriminate against certain groups from trying such stunts again.)” [Mother Jones, 6/25/13]