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AFL-CIO Now

Unequal Justice and the 1% Supreme Court

This is a cross-post from the Alliance for Justice’s Justice Watch blog.   

In a series of 5 to 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), which was 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.”

To learn more about the issues discussed in "Unequal Justice" and to find out about hosting a screening, go to www.unequaljustice.org. And read AFJ President Nan Aron’s call to action in The Nation.

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