By Ian Millhiser on Jun 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm
Earlier today, the Supreme Court handed three big victories to big corporations seeking immunity from the law, and equally substantial defeats to American workers and consumers. In a pair of workplace civil rights decisions, the Court made it easier for many bosses to get away with sexual or racial harassment, and it eased the path for many companies that retaliate against workers who claim they are victims of discrimination. Additionally, the Court held a generic drug manufacturer whose product allegedly caused burns over half a patient’s bodyimmune from a lawsuit that would have compensated this victim for her injuries. Notably, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s top business advocacy group, filed briefs on the victorious side in each of these cases.
Indeed, after today, the Chamber’s record before the Roberts Court is 13 wins and just 3 losesthis term. This marks a sharp increase in the Chamber’s win rate even as compared to prior terms before the conservative Roberts Court. A Constitutional Accountability Center study of the Chamber’s record before the justices from last month found that the Chamber won 69 percent of its cases before the Roberts Court. That’s in contrast to a 56 percent win rate in front of the quite conservative, but comparatively more moderate, Rehnquist Court.
Notably the Court deferred so completely to the Chamber today that it adopted a harsh rule limiting sexual and racial harassment claims even though the attorney arguing that case on behalf of the defendant — a former Solicitor General under George W. Bush — would not endorse the rule himself while he was arguing the case. So the five conservative justices sided with the Chamber even though no party before the Court agreed with the Chamber’s position.