Business, the Environment, and the Roberts Court: A Preliminary Assessment

32 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2009 Last revised: 13 Apr 2012

See all articles by Jonathan H. Adler

Jonathan H. Adler

Case Western Reserve University School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Date Written: March 1, 2009


The Roberts Court has developed a reputation for being a "pro-business" court. This article, prepared for the 2009 Santa Clara Law Review symposium on "Big Business and the Roberts Court," seeks to offer a preliminary assessment of this claim with reference to the Roberts Court's decisions in environmental cases. Reviewing the environmental law decisions of the Roberts Court to date reveals no evidence of a "pro-business" bias. This does not disprove the claim that the Roberts Court is pro-business, but it may suggest the need to refine conventional descriptions of the Roberts Court. The lack of a pro-business orientation in the environmental context does not mean the Court is not more business-friendly in other areas, such as preemption or securities litigation. Yet while there are no signs of a business-friendly approach to environmental cases, there are signs the Court tends to side with the government. Thus far in the Roberts Court, governmental interests have prevailed in environmental cases with greater frequency than business interests. This is only a preliminary assessment because the Roberts Court has only decided fourteen environmental law cases to date, and several more are pending. Nonetheless, if this pattern continues, then whether the Court hands down business-friendly decisions may depend on whether the political branches are or continue to be receptive to business interests.

Keywords: Robert's Court, United States Supreme Court, Environmental Law, Business Interests, Government Interests

JEL Classification: K23, K32

Suggested Citation

Adler, Jonathan H., Business, the Environment, and the Roberts Court: A Preliminary Assessment (March 1, 2009). Santa Clara Law Review, Vol. 49, p. 101, 2009, Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-6, Available at SSRN:

Jonathan H. Adler (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

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