Business Cases, A Major Focus for U.S. Supreme Court

By October 6, 2009Briefly Legal

With the U.S. Supreme Court opening its 2009-2010 term Monday, a recurring theme in the media coverage was the prominence of business cases. Bloomberg, for example, reports, “Companies Seek Turnaround as Supreme Court Returns”:

[The] term will be heavy on business cases, as companies aim to rebound after a year of high court setbacks.

The nine-month term that started today will affect the fate of imprisoned former Hollinger International Inc. Chairman Conrad Black, the accounting oversight board set up by the Sarbanes-Oxley law and the sales of professional football team caps. The justices also will consider limiting investor lawsuits and making it harder to get a patent covering business methods.


There are many business cases before the court. One tests whether a Wall Street formula for buying and selling commodities can be patented; another tests whether the people who run mutual funds can charge higher fees to individual clients than to institutional investors like pension funds. And there’s a case testing whether the law enacted in the aftermath of the Enron scandal — to monitor public companies’ accounting — is constitutional.

UPDATE (9:05 a.m.): You know, there aren’t THAT many business cases. Maybe this is just a standard storyline that’s trotted out every October: “Business cases dominate court.” Whether they really dominate or not. And in some respects, the major case with business implications — Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board — is not a business case per se, but a case about separation of powers and delegation of authority.

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