Alito: The Chamber of Commerce’s Supreme Court Ringer?


Was the Citizens United case, in which the Supreme Court voted to allow unlimited corporate spending on elections, just an aberration? Or is the Roberts court really as pro-business as critics allege? Well, the Constitutional Accountability Center decided to test that thesis by examining the justices’ voting records in cases where the U.S Chamber of Commerce was a party or filed an amicus brief. On Wednesday, it released the results of its empirical study. As it turns out, the five-justice conservative majority ruled in the chamber’s favor in 64 percent of the cases, and even more often–71 percent–in the closely divided cases, which included Citizens United and the Lilly Ledbetter case involving gender discrimination.

By far the most reliable Chamber vote on the court turned out not to be the leading suspect, Chief Justice Roberts, but Justice Alito, who voted for the Chamber in 75 percent of the cases. Even more striking, however, is that in the most contested 5-4 cases, Alito never voted against the Chamber. He was the only justice with such a one-sided record. On the other end of the ideological spectrum, Justice John Paul Stevens rarely sided with the Chamber in the close cases, but overall still voted for business interests almost 40 percent of the time.

The CAC’s analysis didn’t include the court’s newest justice, Sonia Sotomayor, because of her short time on the court. But the group did find that in the seven business cases in which Sotomayor participated, she voted against the Chamber in five of them, more than any other member of the court. While CAC says the Sotomayor votes aren’t a statistically significant sample, they still contrast sharply with many liberal predictions last year that she would turn out to be a closet conservative. Her votes so far in the Chamber cases suggest she may prove more liberal than David Souter, the man she replaced, who tended to vote right down the middle, with 50 percent of his votes for the Chamber and 50 percent against.

THANK YOU.

We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.