Corporate Lobby Threatens A Blizzard Of Litigation Attacking Wall Street Reform And Environmental Protection

Yesterday, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue delivered his “State of American Business” address, in which he laid out the wealthy corporate lobbying group’s agenda for the coming year. After using several questionable statistics to attack regulations intended to protect the environment or prevent Wall Street from triggering another economic crisis, Donohue’s speech includes a promise to unleash a barrage of well-compensated lawyers to help immunize corporate America from these regulations. “You are going to see us significantly expand the expertise in our law firm, the National Chamber Litigation Center and in other areas of our institution, in order to deal with regulations. Our preference is always to work within the legislative and regulatory processes and we do that on a daily basis. But when rights have been trampled on, or regulators have overstepped their bounds, we’ll take the necessary legal action.”

So long as the Supreme Court’s current majority sits, the Chamber’s threat needs to be taken seriously. One of the Chamber’s top attorneys, Supreme Court litigator Carter Phillips, claimed in 2007 that “[e]xcept for the solicitor general representing the United States, no single entity has more influence on what cases the Supreme Court decides and how it decides them than the National Chamber Litigation Center.” If anything, this understates the corporate lobby’s success before the Roberts Court. According to a 2010 study by the progressive Constitutional Accountability Center, the Chamber’s victory rate before the Supreme Court spiked 15 points once Chief Justice Roberts took the Court’s center seat. In total the Court favors business interests 61 percent of the time.

Indeed, the Roberts Court is so favorable to the corporate lobby’s position that every single justice examined by the study was more likely to favor the Chamber’s position that the one who held that seat 25 years before:

If anything, the Roberts Court has become even more favorable to corporate interests since this study was conducted. In the term that concluded earlier this year, the Chamber went 7-0 before the justices — the first time since 1991 that the Chamber was undefeated in the nation’s highest Court.