The Roberts Court has developed a reputation for being a "pro-business" court. This article, prepared for the 29 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.


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

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Santa Clara Law Review

Publication Information

49 Santa Clara Law Review 943 (2009)

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Courts Commons


COinS Jonathan H. Adler Faculty Bio