Judiciary Committee to probe 'pro-business' Supreme Court rulings

By Chris Rizo | Jul 21, 2008

Patrick Leahy (D)

Arlen Specter (R)

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to discuss recent Supreme Court decisions that critics say have unfairly favored big business.

The committee is chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat, who last month criticized the nation's highest court for affording "protections for big business rather than for ordinary citizens."

He said winners of recent Supreme Court decisions have been industry and corporate interests, at the expense of workers and consumers, he said.

"In this worsening economy, mothers and fathers are struggling with health care coverage, the uncertainty of retirement, credit card payments and mortgages," Leahy said last month.

"Congress has passed laws to protect Americans in these areas, but in many cases, the Supreme Court has ignored the intent of Congress in passing these measures, oftentimes turning these laws on their heads, and making them protections for big business rather than for ordinary citizens," he added.

A witness list has not yet been released by the committee. The committee's ranking Republican member is Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

In an earlier interview with Legal Newsline, University of California Berkeley Law School Professor Jesse Choper said there is "some basis" for Leahy's remarks.

Choper, a constitutional law expert, said since U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retired in 2005 and Samuel Alito was named to fill the vacancy on the high court, there has been a "tendency generally" on the part of the court to be more "conservative" in their decisions overall, and that includes rulings that affect business and commerce.

"They have to come out one way or another," Choper said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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