Senator Criticizes ‘Most Pro-Business Court Since the Gilded Age’

supreme_court_building_515SUPREME COURT VACANCY: “Will the next Supreme Court justice restore balance to the most pro-business court since the Gilded Age?” That headline succinctly sums up the hopes and concerns of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., in an opinion piece at Medium. Whitehouse concludes:

“The prospect of a new justice opens the opportunity to revisit an array of decisions, Citizens United chief among them, that made the Roberts Court the most ‘pro-business’ court since the Gilded Age, and restore the precedents so many of these 5–4 decisions overturned. Which is why Merrick Garland, an experienced and highly respected judge, faces Republicans’ unprecedented refusal to move on his confirmation. But with as many as four Supreme Court vacancies possible in the next two presidential terms, the Court may soon be shifting in ways that reverberate for a generation. In the struggle against corporate domination of America’s economy and elections, the stakes could not be higher.”

At The Economist, an essay depicts the high court as seeming to be “stuck in standby mode,” and teetering on a divide of ideologies. “It’s a hinge,” said University of Michigan law professor Richard Primus, “on which the direction of constitutional law could turn for decades.” And there are conflicting accounts about whether if elected, Donald Trump might nominate billionaire Peter Thiel to the court, from Huffington Post and Slate.

FORCED ARBITRATION: When The Sacramento Bee editorialized this week about the fallout of a recent scandal involving Wells Fargo & Co., it put the forced arbitration issue front and center. “According to federal regulators,” it said, “bank employees – told they would lose their jobs if they failed to make gargantuan sales quotas – forged signatures and used fake email addresses to sign up bank customers for extra products without informing them. Customers often didn’t find out until a check bounced or an odd fee showed up on a statement. When they tried to sue, mandatory arbitration agreements signed with their original accounts prompted judges to dismiss their cases.” Alliance for Justice, our sister organization, supports eliminating forced arbitration.

POLITICAL MONEY, STATE JUDGES AND SUPREME COURT: Several local prosecutors  have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that shut down an investigation of possible violation of campaign finance laws by Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups in 2011 and 2012 recall elections. One of the issues the prosecutors cite is whether two Wisconsin justices should have recused, notes a Madison Capital Times editorial. They had benefitted from spending by two of the groups involved in the investigation. This week, The Guardian brought more attention to the issue with its publication of leaked documents about the “secretive influence of corporate cash on politics” in Wisconsin and the lengths to which “even judges go to solicit money.”