U.S. Supreme Court

Alito and Roberts are the most pro-businesses justices since 1946, study finds

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Not every decision by the Roberts court has favored businesses. But the U.S. Supreme Court is more pro-business in its rulings than any other since 1946, according to a new study. And two of its justices are also the most pro-business among 36 who served on the court since World War II.

Those justices are both appointees of George W. Bush, the New York Times reports. They are Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Three other justices among the court’s conservatives made the top 10 for their percentage of votes favoring businesses.

The study, published last month in the Minnnesota Law Review (PDF), is by Judge Richard Posner of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, University of Chicago economist William Landes, and University of Southern California law professor Lee Epstein. The authors analyzed about 2,000 decisions from 946 to 2011.

The Times looks at several recent pro-business decisions, including the court’s March decision overturning class certification in an antitrust case against Comcast. “In the eight years since Chief Justice Roberts joined the court,” the Times says, “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.”

The story quotes New York University law professor Arthur Miller, who says the court has issued pro-business rulings in procedural decisions that don’t always garner a lot of attention. “The Supreme Court has altered federal procedure in dramatic ways, one step at a time, to favor the business community,” he said. Among the ways are “increased grants of summary judgment, tightening scientific evidence, rejecting class actions, heightening the pleading barrier and wholesale diversions into arbitration.”

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Supreme Court Grants Cert and Rules for Businesses in Growing Percentage of Cases”

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