This posture allowed the Constitutional Coup's political cadres to appoint extremist judges like Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court and other extremists to other key Federal judgeships. They were even cynical enough to appoint the cynical, confused and arguably corrupt Clarence Thomas to the Court.
The political majority seemed to sit in stunned silence as this extremist battle plan was played out. It's as if the radical right's opponents were unable to believe that such a bold plan was being conceived and executed, even as it played out all around them.
As is characteristic of their party, Democrats essentially said and did nothing in the face of this onslaught, courteously approving judicial extremists and watching passively as Republicans blocked their own nominees. Democrats even played along by appointing increasingly timorous judges as the GOP went for increasingly aggressive appointees.
That laid the groundwork for what was to come.
The takeover, when it happened, came swiftly. First came Citizens United, a ruling which amplified the power of money over the democratic process. The 2012 election was followed by misguided punditry which claimed that Democratic victories in the White House and Senate proved that elections weren't dominated by moneyed interests.
Nothing could be further from the truth: The GOP retained veto control over governance, despite losing the popular vote in all three branches. Democrats in the White House and Senate aren't even willing to argue for the majority view, much less introduce legislation that supports that view, on issues that range from Social Security (which the public wants to increase) to millionaire taxation (which the public wants increased) to breaking up the big banks.
Instead Barack Obama is proposing to cut Social Security, has compromised on millionaire's taxes, and is giving big bank executives a Get Out of Jail Free Card.
This breakdown in democracy was well underway before Citizens United, but make no mistake: 2012 was a huge victory for the forces of the Corporate Constitutional Coup, and the Court's ruling played a key role in that.
The Court's ruling overruled Congress' decision, affirmed as recently as 2006, to require historically discriminatory states to meet certain requirements before changing their voting laws. Those states have lost or settled far more voter discrimination rulings than others. Their majority populations have more prejudicial beliefs about African Americans on average than do those in other states.
And while the Court used voter registration patterns to argue against singling out these states, Congress specifically noted that it did not consider registration the primary problem it sought to address.
The Court overruled Congress anyway. In doing so, it declared a national blackout of these states' histories of voter discrimination and prejudice -- histories that included heroic sacrifices and even martyrdom to win the right to vote.
As Leonard Cohen says: "I've seen the future, brother. It's murder."
Once again the right-wing forces of the Constitutional Coup are thinking long-term. The states affected by Shelby County v. Holder are experiencing rapid growth in the presence of people of color. This map illustrates the radical population shift they will experience in less than three decades: