Of 46 cases, 38 went the White House's way.
Published July 1, 2007

The Supreme Court smiled on President Bush and big business during its 2006-2007 term, which just ended.

Reinforced by two conservative Bush appointees - Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito Jr. - the court sided with the administration's position more than 80 percent of the time.

"A lot of people have been observing that the administration has kind of had its way with this court," said Washington lawyer Maureen Mahoney.

The White House won big policy victories, as when justices upheld a late-term abortion ban, and scored key procedural wins, with the court blocking taxpayers from challenging Bush's faith-based initiative. White House allies prevailed when the court sided with parents who oppose race-based school decisions.

The administration's record was far from perfect, however.

In the year's highest-profile environmental case, the court by a 5-4 margin declared that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases. And on Friday, at least five justices agreed to reverse a prior court ruling and hear an appeal from prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. That hearing will take place next fall.

The administration weighed in on 46 cases this past term, all handled by Solicitor General Paul Clement. Some cases involved the government itself. Many others involved private cases on which the administration had a point of view. Thirty-eight times, the administration's view prevailed.

The Clinton administration, by contrast, sometimes lost as many as half of the court cases on which it expressed views.

"The current administration may be more in tune with a majority of the Supreme Court than was the case during the previous administration," said Washington legal aid attorney Barbara McDowell, who served eight years in the solicitor general's office.

In truth, McDowell added, solicitor generals frequently have good batting averages with the court. They have considerable experience, pick their fights carefully and generally enjoy the court's respect.

Still, the White House wasn't the only big winner as Roberts led a conservative, if at times tenuous, majority. Business interests likewise count the newly finished term a success. The Chamber of Commerce prevailed in 13 out of 16 cases on which it weighed in.

"We've been representing the business community before the Supreme Court for 30 years, and this is our strongest showing (ever)," said Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center.