A liberal public interest group in Washington released a new documentary Monday that focuses on three Supreme Court rulings that the group says has favored big businesses at the expense of consumers and victims of discrimination.
The Unequal Justice: The Relentless Rise of the 1% Court, produced by the Alliance for Justice, includes interviews of the lawyers and plaintiffs involved in three significant 5-4 high court decisions: the Wal-Mart v. Dukes decision turning back an employment discrimination class action; the Pliva v. Mensing decision preventing lawsuits against generic drug makers; and the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission decision about corporate political speech.
The 20-minute film tracks the origins of a business community fighting in the courts to “a profoundly-influential memo” written in 1971 by corporate lawyer Lewis Powell, just months before he was named to the Court by President Richard Nixon. The film is narrated by Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation magazine.
“Today, as the Supreme Court begins a new term, the court will be ‘open for business,’” said AFJ President Nan Aron. “The term is already packed with cases with the potential to restrict corporate accountability and limit everyday Americans’ civil rights and access to justice.”
Of course, not everyone agrees with the film’s conclusions.
Curt Levey, the president and executive director of the conservative Committee for Justice, said typically the Supreme Court’s decisions where businesses win are more lopsided than 5-4 votes. Moreover, he said, a decision isn’t wrong just because the interests of business win over those of workers or consumers.
“I think this frankly is the typical way liberals look at the court,” Levey said. “What’s true is judges should apply the law and let the outcome be what the law requires. That’s the process, not deciding in advance whether you want the little guy to win.”
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