It's ChinatownAt the end of the one of the Best Movies Ever, Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) drives with her young daughter towards safety down a Los Angeles street. Will they escape? Yes, we think they just might!

A Los Angeles police lieutenant (Perry Lopez) steps onto the pavement. He aims his pistol and fires. Mulwray's car glides into a wall. The horn blares. It keeps blaring, as Mulwray's lifeless body presses against the steering wheel.

A look of crazy anguish pierces the face of Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson), a private detective who has fallen in love with his client Mulwray. One of Jake's associates grabs him. He faces his boss and says:

"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."

That pretty much sums up what Adam Liptak writes today in the Sunday NYT, on the front page of the Business section, about the rulings in business cases by the Roberts Court. Liptak titles his piece "Friend of the Corporation" (in the print version) and "Corporations Find a Friend in the Supreme Court" (online), and he opens it thus:

Not long after 10 a.m. on March 27, a restless audience waited for the Supreme Court to hear arguments in the second of two historic cases involving same-sex marriage. First, however, Justice Antonin Scalia attended to another matter. He announced that the court was throwing out an antitrust class action that subscribers brought against Comcast, the nation's largest cable company.

Almost no one in the courtroom paid attention, despite Justice Scalia's characteristically animated delivery, and the next day's news coverage was dominated by accounts of the arguments on same-sex marriage. That was no surprise: the Supreme Court's business decisions are almost always overshadowed by cases on controversial social issues.

But the business docket reflects something truly distinctive about the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. While the current court's decisions, over all, are only slightly more cnservative than those from the courts led by Chief Justices Warren E. Burger and William H. Rehnquist, according to political scientists who study the court, its business rulings are another matter. They have been, a new study finds, far friendlier to business than those of any court since at least World War II.

Liptak goes on to tell about the study, which appears in the Minnesota Law Review, by Wiliam M. Landes and Richard A. Posner, as well as "a despairing overview", in the New York University Law Review, by Arthur R. Miller.

Blawgletter says check it out.

You'll note that the case Liptak uses to kick off the article, Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, No. 11-864, holds a special place in our heart. We argued it to the Court last November, and in our giddiness afterwards dared to hope the Court would concede what became obvious during the argument — that Their Honors had made a mistake in thinking, when they took the case, that it properly raised a question of admissibility of expert opinion evidence under the Daubert line of decisions.

The majority instead posed and answered a different question, one that it seems to have formulated after the briefing concluded. That explains the dissenters' view that the majority had engaged (per Liptak) in "unseemly judicial gamesmanship" by "refram[ing] the legal issue in the case so that they could rule for Comcast."

It's Kabletown.