Senate Judiciary Committee To Examine Impact Of Supreme Court Decisions On Access To Justice, Corporate Accountability

WASHINGTON (Friday, June 24, 2011) – The Senate Judiciary Committee, under the chairmanship of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), will hold a hearing June 29 to examine how recent Supreme Court decisions will impact Americans’ access to justice and affect corporate behavior.

Recent Court opinions that will be discussed include Wal-Mart v. Dukes, Janus Capital Group, Inc. v. First Derivative Traders, and AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion.  The final decisions of the Supreme Court’s term are expected to be announced next week.

The hearing is the latest in a series that Leahy has chaired in the Judiciary Committee to examine the impact of Supreme Court decisions on Americans’ daily lives.  Under Leahy’s chairmanship, the Committee has held several hearings focused on the effect of the Supreme Court’s divisive rulings.  These hearings have examined how the Court has misinterpreted laws meant to protect consumers and employees, shielded corporations engaged in misconduct, and overturned well-settled precedent.  Previous hearings have analyzed such widely reported cases as Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire, a gender discrimination case; Gross v. FBL Financial Services, an age discrimination case; and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a campaign finance case. 

Scheduled to testify at the hearing is Betty Dukes, the lead plaintiff in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 1.5 million female Wal-Mart employees in which the court decided that that Wal-Mart’s female employees did not have enough in common to pursue their national class action.  Also testifying at the hearing will be Professor Melissa Hart, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School, and Andrew Pincus, a partner at Mayer Brown law firm in Washington, D.C.   

The hearing, “Barriers to Justice and Accountability: How the Supreme Court’s Recent Rulings Will Affect Corporate Behavior,” will be held on Wednesday, June 29, at 10:30 a.m. in room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.  The hearing will be webcast live online.

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Witness Information

For Background Purposes Only

Betty Dukes has worked at Wal-Mart since 1994, and is currently employed as a greeter.  Ms. Dukes had 20 years experience in retail when she joined the company in 1994.  She is the lead plaintiff in Wal-Mart v. Dukes.

Melissa Hart is a law professor at the University of Colorado Law School.  She graduated from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, in 1995, and clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the Second Circuit and for Justice John Paul Stevens on the United States Supreme Court.  She teaches Employment Discrimination, Legal Ethics and Professionalism, Civil Procedure and Supreme Court Decisionmaking. Her scholarship focuses primarily on employment discrimination, including large class action law suits challenging structural discrimination in the workplace.

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Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693