ALLIANCE FOR JUSTICE RELEASES DOCUMENTARY, LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN AGAINST BIG BUSINESS INFLUENCE ON THE SUPREME COURT
Press ContactRichard Wexler email@example.com
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 1, 2012—In a series of 5–4 rulings, a majority on the United States Supreme Court effectively has rewritten the law to favor big business at the expense of the American people, according to a new documentary, Unequal Justice: The Relentless Rise of the 1% Court, produced by Alliance for Justice (AFJ) and released online Monday.
“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 The Court’s decisions this term could have harmful consequences for the ability of consumers, victims of discrimination, and others to get a fair day in court.
“But no one should be surprised,” Aron said. “What we are likely to see in the term that begins today was decades in the making.”
Unequal Justice chronicles a 40-year campaign by corporate special interests to put the thumb of big business on the scales of justice. The campaign has its origins in a profoundly-influential memo written in 1971 by corporate lawyer Lewis Powell, just months before he himself was named to the court by President Richard Nixon. The memo urged the business community to fight what was then a burgeoning consumer and environmental movement.
“There has been much attention in recent months to the way the executive and the legislative branches stacked the deck in favor of ‘the one percent’ and against the rest of us,” Aron said. “But there’s been far too little attention paid to the success of big business in influencing the Supreme Court. With a presidential election just weeks away, it’s time to pay attention to the decisions a president makes that often have the most lasting consequences – his nominees who will be appointed to the nation’s highest court."
Said Aron: “We produced this video because we want to highlight the importance of the Supreme Court in the lives of everyday Americans and to spur a renewed sense of activism to hold the Court accountable for its actions."
“We all know about the Supreme Court’s disastrous campaign finance decision in Citizens United, opening the floodgates for corporations that want to influence elections,” Aron said. “But that was only the best-known of a series of decisions favoring corporate special interests over the rest of us, decisions that illustrate the success of the campaign that begin with Lewis Powell’s memo."
The video is narrated by Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation. AFJ worked closely with The Nation on a special issue devoted to “The One Percent Court” published this month. The issue includes a call to action from Nan Aron.
In addition to Citizens United, Unequal Justice focuses on two other cases:
The video concludes with a call to “fight to end the way big corporations can discriminate, ignore the consequences of their actions, or use their wealth to dominate the ballot box” and “fight to make sure Washington appoints judges committed to giving all Americans a fair shake.” Action steps are outlined on a special website, www.unequaljustice.org
As vanden Heuvel notes in the video: “Even five Supreme Court justices don’t have the last word. We do.”
Experts featured in the video are former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Prof. Pam Karlan of Stanford University Law School, Elizabeth Ann Lawrence of Davis Cowell & Bowe, Prof. Patricia Williams of Columbia Law School, Joseph Sellers, a partner at Cohen Milstein, and lead attorney in Walmart v. Dukes, and Pamela Gilbert, a partner at Cuneo, Gilbert & LaDuca and former Executive Director of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Unequal Justice is the latest in the series of First Monday documentaries and campaigns produced by Alliance for Justice since 1996. It may be viewed online at www.unequaljustice.org
Also available at www.unequaljustice.org:
Alliance for Justice is a national association of over 100 organizations, representing a broad array of groups committed to progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just, and free society. AFJ works to ensure that the federal judiciary advances core constitutional values, preserves human rights and unfettered access to the courts, and adheres to the even-handed administration of justice for all Americans. It is the leading expert on the legal framework for nonprofit advocacy efforts, providing definitive information, resources, and technical assistance that encourages organizations and their funding partners to fully exercise their right to be active participants in the democratic process. AFJ is based in Washington, D.C.