In May, I predicted that the Supreme Court would decide the Walmart case 5-4 in favor of Walmart and that a sexism outcry would ensue. I got the result right, as the four conservative justices plus the conservative-leaning swing vote, Justice Kennedy, voted to deny certification of the class action, while the four liberal justices, including the three women on the court, would have allowed the case to continue (but under a different provision of the Code of Civil Procedure).
As far as the reaction goes, it seems that (Samsonite!) I was way off. The media did extensively cover the decision, but the story was not about gender discrimination. It was about whether the decision gives large businesses impunity from lawsuits.
I could give the media credit for properly identifying the issues in the case, the motivations of the justices and the long-term consequences of the decision. But I’m not going to do that. Ratings drive the media. If the media had believed that the sexism in the Supreme Court story would have garnered the best ratings, that probably would have been the story.
It turns out that the public’s concern that large corporations are becoming more influential, to the detriment of the average citizen, is currently more of a pertinent concern than gender discrimination. I find that conclusion a bit surprising. Both are certainly important issues, so it seems neither good nor bad that the former currently seems more relevant to society than the latter. The consequences of that conclusion are quite telling though. For example, the conclusion suggests that Republicans, who are traditionally considered close to big business, might need to walk a fine line in order to remain “business friendly” but avoid being seen as in cahoots with big business.
Since there appears to be plenty of interest in the class action issues that were at the heart of the Walmart case, I will post my analysis of the legal issues within the next couple of weeks. For now, color me surprised that the media got one right.