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Analysis

March 15, 2022

Better Markets Releases Supreme Court Report: If Confirmed to the Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson Will Help Improve the Financial Lives of American Consumers and Investors

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court is good news for all Americans struggling to meet their basic needs, achieve a decent standard of living, and plan for a safe and secure retirement. The bottom line is that if confirmed, Justice Jackson will strive to provide everyday American consumers and investors a fair hearing and a fighting chance when they are pitted against a powerful and too often predatory financial system that enriches itself at the expense of the real economy.

Every term, the Court decides cases addressing not only important social policy questions but also the rules of the road for the financial system—the rules that affect anyone with a bank account, credit card, mortgage loan, 401(k), or any other financial product or service.  The Supreme Court is also the last resort, the place where Americans must be able to turn when they have been victimized by financial predators or let down by the regulatory agencies that are supposed to serve as the financial market watchdogs. And the Justices who sit on the Court make a huge difference in how cases are decided, often establishing new and long-lasting principles of law.  That’s why the nomination of Judge Jackson is so important.

In our special report, we take a closer look at how the Supreme Court shapes the financial and economic lives of all Americans.  For decades, the Court has issued decisions that answer vital questions affecting Americans’ financial lives:  Will the SEC and other agencies have the authority and tools they need to regulate the markets and punish and deter con artists, or will their statutes be narrowly applied, their rules struck down in court, and their most effective enforcement tools such as disgorgement taken out of their hands? Will ripped-off consumers and investors have their day in court before an impartial judge and the right of appeal, or will they be forced into a biased and secretive arbitration proceeding where they’ll have little chance of meaningful recovery for their losses?  And will the financial system be fair and transparent, or will it be shrouded in mystery, generating massive profits while exploiting everyday Americans and even threatening another devastating financial crisis?  As we show in our report, sometimes the Court gets it right but too often it sides with companies and financial firms, not with individual victims or public interest groups seeking to advance the public good.

In our report, we then examine the impressive qualifications that Judge Jackson would bring to the Court.   While she alone cannot fundamentally alter the ideological composition of the Court, she can at least hold back the recent tide of conservative judicial thinking. Based on Judge Jackson’s character, intellect, and experience as a district court judge, we expect that she will be an exemplary Justice, one who—

  • Is meticulous and thorough.
  • Interpret statutes faithfully and with due consideration for Congressional intent and important public policy goals.
  • Reflects a belief that robust regulation, rather than being a presumptive evil, plays a necessary and beneficial role in society, protecting the public from many types of harm.
  • Holds the government, and regulatory agencies in particular, accountable if they fail to adhere to the substantive and procedural requirements applicable to the rulemaking process under the law.
  • Displays compassion and sensitivity to the plight of litigants and the real-world consequences of her votes.
  • Applies the rule of law equally, as much to the powerful and privileged as to the ordinary citizen.

As we conclude in our report, Judge Jackson has the intellect, character, and experience to serve as an outstanding Supreme Court justice for years to come. She will bring not only a remarkable resume but also much needed diversity to the Court. In addition, she will bring a judicial approach that respects the value of regulation, the need to protect the public interest, compassion for the underdog, and above all, a commitment to judging every party and every claim equally under the law.

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