Securities Law in the Roberts Court: Agenda or Indifference?

58 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2010 Last revised: 16 Jul 2016

Date Written: August 13, 2011


Historically, securities law has not been a high priority for the Supreme Court. The first six years of the Roberts Court, however, suggest an upsurge of interest in the federal securities laws. The Roberts Court's average of two cases per year marks a significant increase from the Rehnquist Court’s average. These numbers are deceptive. Analysis of the opinions deciding these cases – and more importantly, the issues debated by the justices – suggests that the Court is not interested in the substance of the securities laws or the policies that animate them. Instead, securities law serves as a backdrop for debates over statutory interpretation and the relationship of the judiciary to the administrative state. Only in the area of securities class actions is there an inkling of engagement with the specific subject matter. Notwithstanding charges that the Roberts Court is “pro business,” the Court has not charted a consistent course favoring corporate defendants. Instead, the Court has demonstrated a bias toward the status quo, resisting attempts to both restrict and expand – the reach of Rule 10b-5 class actions.

Keywords: Supreme Court, Chief Justice Roberts, securities regulation

JEL Classification: K22

Suggested Citation

Pritchard, Adam C., Securities Law in the Roberts Court: Agenda or Indifference? (August 13, 2011). U of Michigan Law & Econ, Empirical Legal Studies Center Paper No. 10-026, Available at SSRN: or

Adam C. Pritchard (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States
734-647-4048 (Phone)
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