Samuel Alito on Corporations

Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Pres. George W. Bush 2005)


"Simply not true" that companies will bankroll campaigns

Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito apparently took umbrage at President Obama's comment about the court's recent decision on corporate campaign contributions. Was either of them out of line?

Now, normally the justices express no emotion durin the president's speech--no applauding, no sniggering, no eye-rolling. But Obama's mention of the campaign finance decision--Obama said American elections would be "bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities"--caused Associate Justice Samuel Alito's expression to go dark as he shook his head and appeared to say "Simply not true."

In the wake of the court's recent decision, Democrats are hustling to craft legislation that would limit corporate political advertising --especially for corporations with foreign connections.

If such legislation is ever signed into law, it'll be fun to watch as it goes to the Supreme Court (which it surely would)--especially to see what Justice Alito would have to say about it.

Source: Christian Science Monitor on 2010 State of the Union , Jan 30, 2010

Corporate political spending is protected free speech

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that the government cannot restrict the spending of corporations for political campaigns, maintaining that it's their First Amendment right to support candidates as they choose. This decision upsets two previous precedents on the free-speech rights of corporations. Pres. Obama expressed disapproval of the decision, calling it a "victory" for Wall Street and Big Business.

OnTheIssues explanation: Roberts, Scalia & Alito concurred; Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, & Sotomayor partly dissented (on grounds that electioneering spending is not protected free speech); Thomas partly dissented (on grounds that anonymous spending is protected free speech).

Source: InfoPlease.com on 2010 SCOTUS docket #08-205 , Jan 21, 2010

Bundling goods to large purchasers is not monopolistic

SEN. DEWINE: Many hospitals buy their supplies through group purchasing organizations known as GPOs. Often GPOs reach deals with major suppliers to buy items in bundles; in other words buy a number of different products and those suppliers in order to get discounts on all of the products. In 3M v. LePage, 3M, which sells Scotch tape, was selling it as part of a bundle with other products. The result was that LePage’s, which was offering a cheaper, competing tape, was having a hard time getting stores to sell its tape because if the stores did, they would have to give up the chance to save money on all the other 3M products that they carry. The majority ruled against 3M, but you dissented.

ALITO: This was a monopolization case. 3M was not selling the product below its cost. 3M, because of its scale or because it was more efficient, was able to produce its product more cheaply. That factor persuaded us that there wasn’t sufficient evidence of monopolization here.

Source: Sam Alito 2006 SCOTUS Senate Confirmation Hearings , Jan 11, 2006

Can only sue for direct results of corporate negligence.

Justice Alito joined the dissent on CSX TRANSPORTATION v. MCBRIDE on Jun 23, 2011:

A railroad employee complained that the configuration of locomotives he had been assigned was unsafe because it required excessive use of an independent handbrake. Told to run the configuration as it was, the engineer after 10 hours of work injured his hand while using the handbrake. He never recovered full use of his hand and sued the railroad under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA).

HELD: Proximate cause not needed in railroad employee injury suitDelivered by Ginsburg; joined by Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan & Thomas

Recognizing the hazards of railroading, Congress enacted FELA in 1910. It allowed injured employees to recover "for injury resulting from negligence" of the railroad. By using this language, Congress intended to substitute for common law "proximate cause" a standard that any negligence by the railroad, however slight, that caused injury to an employee would lead to railroad liability for the injury. Congress dispensed with examination of whether the railroad's negligence was the "direct" or "probable" cause of the injury. If any injury is forseeable, and the railroad negligent in preventing it, FELA allowed damages even if the particular injury is not forseeable. FELA's wording, Supreme Court precedent, and 50 years of Court of Appeals decisions following this precedent lead to this conclusion.

DISSENT: Congress did not disavow proximate cause in worker RR suitsFiled by Roberts; joined by Scalia, Kennedy, and Alito

Proximate cause has long been a requirement in tort law. When enacting FELA, Congress expressly disavowed four other common law standards of tort law; The Court therefore has no basis to find that Congress intended to do away with proximate cause in FELA cases by implication. The Court misinterprets the Court's precedent and provides a standard for FELA cases lacking in guidance to courts and allowing unpredictable recoveries.
Source: Supreme Court case 11-MCBRIDE argued on Mar 28, 2011

Other Justices on Corporations: Samuel Alito on other issues:
Samuel Alito(since 2006)
Amy Coney Barrett(since 2020)
Stephen Breyer(since 1994)
Neil Gorsuch(since 2017)
Ketanji Brown Jackson(nominated 2022)
Elena Kagan(since 2010)
Brett Kavanaugh(since 2018)
John Roberts(since 2005)
Sonia Sotomayor(since 2009)
Clarence Thomas(since 1991)

Former Justices:
Merrick Garland(nominated 2016)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg(1993-2020)
Anthony Kennedy(1988-2018)
Antonin Scalia(1986-2016)
John Paul Stevens(1975-2010)
David Souter(1990-2009)
Sandra Day O'Connor(1981-2006)
William Rehnquist(1975-2005)

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Page last updated: Mar 21, 2022