Will the little guy to get ahead? That’s certainly a legitimate question in light of Jeffrey Rosen’s new article which appeared in the Sunday New York Times Magazine on March 16, 2008. To view the article, click here.
In the article entitled Supreme Court Inc., Rosen contends that the United States Supreme Court has been shaping up nicely for business interests at the expense of ordinary consumers. With their pro-business jurisprudence, the justices on the Supreme Court are capturing an emerging spirit of agreement among liberal and conservative elites about the value of free markets. It goes on to suggest that this is a culmination of a carefully planned, behind-the-scenes campaign over several decades to change not only the courts, but also the country’s political culture.
The article speaks a lot about the powerful influence of the United States Chamber of Commerce, which over the course of the last 30 years, has championed business interests before the Supreme Court. At the same time, there has been a decline of economic populism in Congress, a weakening of trade unions, and the rise of globalization. This combination has led to a series of decisions that have limited access by consumers to the courts in product liability cases, have undermined jury awards of punitive damages, and has let corporate corruption go unchecked in the courts.
The article has not gone without criticism. Indeed, some have suggested that Rosen has supplied little evidence that the Court has become pro business in recent years. Others have suggested that Rosen has distorted legal history and misunderstands the proper role of the judiciary. In either event, the article is a compelling read and certainly signals a seismic shift in the ability of ordinary consumers to have their day in court.
Consumers have been inundated with tort reform legislation that has severely limited their ability to seek justice, and now it appears that the courts themselves are closing the doors. You can view a series of tort reform pieces by clicking here.