Class action suits, also targeted, were disempowered by newly imposed limitations, the sum result horrifying for all: SCOTUS had pushed aside the two other branches of the federal government to become the most powerful of them all.
Corporations are now using money to dominate the ballot box, van den Heuvel concluded. "Five Supreme Court Justices don't have the last word. We do."
The concluding pledge was that AFJ will fight back to redirect the Court toward the real citizenry, the real individuals, we the people. Several of the Justices are close to retirement age, including Ginsburg, Scalia, and Kennedy, so that in the next four years there is room for hope that change can veer this country away from complete corporatocracy.
Jarring the audience, moderator Lipsen noted that the subject of SCOTUS was ignored during the 2012 presidential campaign. The Roberts Court accomplishes what it does by means of roadblocks including pretrial technicalities and procedural flaws, said Gilbert.
She quoted attorney Arthur Miller that SCOTUS doesn't even bar its doors; it shoots plaintiffs on the courthouse steps.
Referring to the origin of the inverse process, an increase in the negotiating power of the people, Scott recalled the National Labor Relations Act passed as part of the New Deal, to inject more capital into the economy.
Once Powell took the helm, he questioned whether unions and workers had too much power--24 percent of workers, not counting government employees, were unionized.
SCOTUS rulings followed to diminish them: they were no longer permitted to meet on private property and were next denied the right to bargain over a corporate decision to close down. The Court also ruled that undocumented workers have no rights according to the NLR Act.
Smiley noted the full agenda such injustice demanded: redefinition of the term "criminal," for example--to reapply that label to corporations rather than individual citizens. Walmart must be framed as the villain. In another anecdote, she told of a worker who collapsed after having worked three shifts in a row.
Walmart has the world's best logistics for "moving things," she said. The District of Columbia has successfully kept it out on the basis of negligence of workers' rights and environmental regulations. This year forty Mexican guest workers "sent Walmart into a tailspin." They could well empower the 1.5 million disenfranchised Walmart employees, Smiley said.
Gulf Coast workers have just begun to organize, and Walmart knows that they will win, just like striking employees of Ford and its supply chain.
When the Court tries Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, activism will be of paramount importance, said Scott, as it was to the successful survival of the Affordable Care Act last summer. Gilbert noted that this was the smartest decision that Roberts ever made [to me it was blatant politics, period--MS].
Ending the panel discussion on a forceful note, Smiley noted that the Waltons own half the wealth of this country while its employees challenge the economy with their need for food stamps and other necessities of life.