Good things are happening! Corporate power’s favorite way to secretly skew court decisions could be facing a legal reckoning. Moreover, a pipeline company has to pay up for trespassing, companies are in the crosshairs for shady stock deals, and some police departments can no longer use pseudoscience to justify lethal force.

Friends Of The Court Face Scrutiny

Judicial policymakers aim to crack down on one of corporate America’s favorite ways to influence court decisions. On April 10, the U.S. Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules advanced a proposal that would require organizations that file amicus briefs, or “friend of the court” filings, in litigation to disclose their financial backers — specifically, how much of their revenue comes from people with a stake in the case.

Litigants often secretly fund efforts to influence the outcome of cases by submitting amicus briefs — expert advice and commentary given to the court by an entity not involved in the lawsuit. Nonprofits, charities, and trade associations often submit these briefs, which are designed to help shape judges’ final opinions. But more than anyone else, corporate America has used amicus briefs to get their way in court. For example, The Lever has explored how corporate groups, often with ties to billionaire benefactors, have used the filings to push for everything from repealing tenants' rights to disempowering federal regulatory agencies to hamstring unions' power to strike to blocking taxes on the ultrarich.