Senate Democrats Release New Report Detailing How Labor and Workers' Rights Are At Risk With New Supreme Court Vacancy

October 1, 2020

The Issue-Based Report Released As Part of Senate Democrats’ Captured Courts Project

“The Right to Organize, The Right to Sue Abusive Employers, The Right to Receive Fair Pay, and The Right to a Workplace Free From Discrimination are All Under Judicial Attack—And Will Be For The Foreseeable Future”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Robert Casey (D-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Jack Reed (D-RI) released a new report outlining the threat that President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee poses to labor and workers’ rights. In the first in a series of Captured Courts reports focused on issues, Senate Democrats have followed the dark money behind judicial decisions and are shining a light on how Republicans are using the courts to threaten labor rights for millions of Americans, and take away the hard-earned rights of workers across the country.

With millions in funding from corporate special interests and ultra-wealthy donors like the Koch Brothers, Republicans have mounted repeated challenges to restrict the rights of workers to organize and fight for better working conditions, wages, and benefits. This report discusses how the Roberts Court’s pro-corporate bias impacts workers and labor unions. It sheds light on the dark-money players involved, the anti-labor track records of Trump-nominated judges, and the current and future legal threats posed against public-sector workers.

“The Supreme Court has enormous influence over the lives of the American people, and any nominee must be willing to defend their rights to collectively bargain for safe workplaces and fair pay,” said Senator Brown. “Leader McConnell has spent the last six months ignoring this pandemic and this economic crisis, and now he wants to pack the court in a way that will put another corporate special interest judge on the court who always rules for corporations over workers. While Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans continue to be committed to corporate special interests, Senate Democrats will keep fighting to preserve the rights of the American people.

“There’s a reason corporate special interests have spent so much money helping Donald Trump and Senate Republicans pack the courts with right-wing extremists,” said Senator Hirono. “They have been using the courts for years to undermine labor unions and the rights of workers. Now they want to add another right-wing ideologue to the Supreme Court to lock in the scales in favor of corporations over American workers for decades to come. We must fight against this right-wing court packing and protect the rights of workers and everyday Americans.”

“This report makes clear what is at stake for millions of Americans as President Trump and Senate Republicans rush to confirm a Supreme Court appointee who has expressed open hostility to the Affordable Care Act and would rip away coverage from millions and end protections for people with pre-existing conditions,” said Senator Casey. “To be clear, the Trump Administration, with a sympathetic Supreme Court, will jeopardize health care coverage and affordability for millions of Americans. This Administration – in the middle of a pandemic— would cater to the interests of big corporations and special interest groups, restrict the rights of workers to organize, leave nearly 20 million Americans without health care coverage and prioritize President Trump’s own election over the needs of the American people. We cannot allow this to happen.”

“In spite of the significant power that big corporations already have over their workers, this report details a staggering number of decisions in which our highest court grants the powerful still more power,” said Senator Baldwin. “While there are many complex ways to explain why union memberships are declining and wages are stagnating as productivity and corporate profits are soaring, this report provides a simple, yet disturbing, explanation - powerful special interests are driving judicial activism from the Roberts Court that benefits big corporations at the expense of workers.”

“Big corporate and right-wing donors spend hundreds of millions in dark money on an apparatus to capture our courts and rig the judicial system in their favor,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Through that scheme, hand-picked judges can attack workers’ rights to organize for fair wages and working conditions, undercut rules to keep workers safe on the job, and hinder access to the courts for employee injuries.  Our report pulls back the curtain on this covert special-interest influence so the American people can stand up and say ‘enough’.”

Key Takeaways from the Captured Courts: Labor and Workers’ Rights Report

·       The Roberts Court has made clear whose side it is on. Time and again, in partisan 5-4 decisions, the Republican appointees on the Supreme Court have shown they value corporations and their profits over employees and the dignity of their work.

·       Workers’ right to organize, the right to sue abusive employers, the right to receive fair pay, and the right to a workplace free from discrimination have all come under judicial attack by the Roberts Court. With scores of like-thinking judges appointed by President Trump, these attacks will continue for years to come.

·       Our federal courts are captured by corporate special interests, worsening historic injustices and systemic inequalities faced by communities of color, women, religious minorities and other groups subject to workplace discrimination and unequal pay.

The full report is available here.

###