In the last few years, I’ve become a frequent critic of the U.S. Supreme Court. Especially so after decisions began flowing under Chief Justice Roberts. Now lower federal courts, also stocked with “conservative” judges by Pres. Bush Jr., seem to be taking cues from a reconstituted SCOTUS. And us little guys are paying a high price for the political shift.

I’m a critic without portfolio. Unencumbered by a law degree, I‘ve no special legal training. I’m not versed in niceties of how a court should be judged. But I do have a considerable amount of common sense. Of right and wrong. The Roberts Court – and a few others – seem too far right and too often wrong. Common sense wise.

There was the tragic SCOTUS “Citizens United” decision granting corporations the same “rights-of-free-speech” as individuals thus creating a major cancer in our political system. Now two new decisions – one by SCOTUS – seem destined to also wreak havoc and significant economic loss for those of us who aren’t large corporate “individuals.”

One came in April without a lot of legal fanfare or media notice and is just now being denounced as the “crushing blow to consumers” it seems to be. Lawyers are having cases kicked out of court because SCOTUS decided corporations can enforce fine print contract language compelling us to waive our right to file lawsuits. You know, the contracts that if not signed, you get no phone service or other products. Sign or else. Legal blackmail. Hundreds of legal challenges squelched in just six months.

David DiSabato, a New Jersey attorney specializing in consumer law, said “Defendants – corporations – are trying to steamroll us out of court with this. We are being shut down with a ruling that opens the door for companies to pick the pockets of millions of consumers $10 at a time.”

One of his clients tried to challenge $10 charges on a Verizon phone bill for everything from ring tones to horoscopes and other unordered “services.” In one instance, Verizon would not even disclose the name of the billing company. So, DiSabato filed a class action and ran smack into a brick wall.

Verison filed an action to dismiss and force arbitration. If the company is upheld, consumers nationally may never be able to discover who’s behind these “phantom” charges or even if such companies exist. DiSabato says he expects Verizon to prevail. And if it does, “consumers will never have a day in court, will never know how many of them are being ripped off and may never know by whom,” he added. His reasoning: people won’t be able to hire anyone to fight $10 fees. And he’s right!

The other judicial landmine for individual Americans deals with “patent trolling.” Patent trolls are “Non-Practicing Entities” or NPE’s. NPE’s were supposed to be providers of clout for individual inventors to keep large companies from infringing on their patents on such things as software development. Give the little guy help by suing and, if prevailing, return ownership of his patent. At least that was the argument used in courts.

But, guess what? That’s not how it’s worked out. And courts, paving the way for this seemingly generous representation, set the abuse in motion with a series of decisions for the “big guys.”

Since NPE’s have little if any research or development expenses of their own, a Boston University study of such cases found patent trolls have cost innovators $500 billion in lost wealth between 1990 and 2010. The figure was developed using patent defendant’s stock prices following a lawsuit, excluding general market trends and random stock fluctuations.

BU Professor James Bessen says “The only real beneficiaries (of these decisions) are lawyers and perhaps principals of the NPE’s. There are many big losers from NPE litigation while hardly anyone benefits.” Certainly not the inventor.

The study concludes patent trolls create a large disincentive to innovate. In fact, Boston U found, the more a company spends on research and development, the more likely it is to be sued because the vast majority of defendants in patent lawsuits invest heavily in R&D. Patent troll lawsuits, according to BU, “increase incentives for large tech companies to acquire vast portfolios of patents to bolster their defenses and do so even if real innovation suffers.” Apple and Microsoft, for instance, joined some other “biggies” and paid bankrupt Nortel $4.5 billion for patents Nortel owned; Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility and its 17,000 patents.

The patent reform bill signed by President Obama last week will do nothing to stop all this. Either new laws are needed – don’t count on it – or different court decisions – don’t count on it. So, SCOTUS – and its legal offspring – are hammering the little guys with decisions that may – or may not – meet the letter of an arcane law here and there but fail what to me is the higher standard: common sense.

The old saw is “if the laws need changing, change ‘em.” But unless a whole lot of us suddenly develop the deep pockets of these corporate “individuals,” we won’t stand a chance in Hell.

For much of this you can thank Chief Justice Roberts.

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