In a disturbing new report, the Center for American Progress looks at the enormous amount of money being spent by corporate special interests in the elections for Alabama Supreme Court and concludes that big business is winning-not just in getting its candidates elected but in getting judges to rule in favor of big business and against individuals who have been injured or scammed.
The just released report called “Big Business Taking over State Supreme Courts”, looks at big business’ influence in six states – Alabama, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Michigan.
Just to show how elections for the Alabama Supreme Court have been overrun by money from corporate PACs, the report states that “at a time when Alabama’s per capita income was $30,000, candidates in the 2006 race spent $13.5 million”. The report goes on to say that in the most recent election, money from Alabama’s Chamber of Commerce alone accounted for 40 percent of all campaign contributions.
The report looks at how Alabama’s high court has interpreted arbitration agreements. Once known for resisting arbitration, the court began to compel arbitration and limit a consumer’s right to a jury trial in about 2000. The report links this reversal to a new conservative majority on the court and campaign donations from business interests generally, and auto dealers and mobile home manufacturers, in particular. “In the last two years, the court’s docket has included 13 cases in which it reviewed a lower court’s decision on sending a case to arbitration, and it has only ruled to reject arbitration four times”.
Read the list of Alabama cases collected in this report and you decide whether corporate special interests have influenced our judiciary in Alabama.