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Our Corrupt Supreme Court

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From http://www.flickr.com/photos/47422005@N04/7048280089/: Supreme Court five
Supreme Court five
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The Supreme Court in our times is troubled with more that an "appearance of corruption." With its recent decisions gutting the regulation of campaign finance, the majority on the Roberts Court has shown itself a partisan combatant on the side of a most dangerously corrupt form of injustice. 

Justice should be understood as the antidote to the rule of power.
When there is no justice, then we fall into the kind of world described by the ancient Athenians as they sought to compel a weaker people to do their bidding--  or else:


"[Y]ou know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must"


Our founders' great contribution to human history was to devise a government to solve that problem. Saying that "all men are created equal," they established a system to equalize power among the citizens. With each citizen given an equal voice in deciding the nation's destiny through the election process-- that equality would eliminate the dichotomy between the strong and the weak.

That's the justice of our democracy.


But here comes John Roberts and his majority -- Republican appointees every one of them -- telling us with a straight face that there is no problem of corruption (or even its appearance) unless there's outright bribery. That kind of quid pro quo of selling favors is, of course, already against the law. But anyone with half a brain can see that government can be bought without such blatant transactions. And these justices are not stupid.


Can anyone honestly say, when we see presidential hopefuls trooping to Las Vegas to kiss the ring of a billionaire, that there is no appearance of corruption?

If all men are created equal, can it be justice for gross inequalities of wealth to be translated into equally gross inequalities of power in choosing our government?

Having been in the political arena as a candidate for Congress, it is on the basis of real experience and direct observation that I can say: those who want to win elections in the American system are almost compelled to pay greater attention to those with the most money than to average Americans.

If one looks for the spirit of justice, one will find it not in Roberts' opinion for the majority in this recent disgraceful decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, but in Justice Bryer's stinging dissent, where he talks about "grave problems of democratic legitimacy," about breaking the "necessary 'chain of communication between the people and their representatives," about  the "subversion of the political process" by having  money induce elected officials to "act contrary to their obligations of office."

But Bryer spoke for the minority. It is of course the majority that defines the Court. And Roberts and his majority have turned justice on its head. Instead of making the law into an antidote to the rule of power, they have contorted the law to help the strong do what they can and compel the weak to suffer what they must.

These campaign finance decisions are a disgrace. But they are not the first time in American history that the Supreme Court has disgraced itself. If one looks at the most disgraceful decisions in the Court's more than two centuries, something interesting reveals itself.

In 1857, the Court handed down the Dred Scott decision, declaring that the black man has no rights the white man is bound to respect and that Congress had no constitutional authority to ban slavery from the territories. Here, too, the Chief Justice of the United States (Roger Taney) was willing to contort the law and to distort the history to reach the desired outcome of tearing down the barriers to the spread of the Slave Power. (For example, he conveniently disregarded the fact -- pointed out by Lincoln -- that many of those same people who wrote our Constitution had also banned slavery from the Northwest territories.)

In 1896, the Court declared in -- Plessy v. Ferguson -- that the brutal segregation of post-Civil War Southern society was in compliance with the 14th Amendment's requirement that all citizens be afforded "equal protection of the laws." The Court declared itself satisfied that "separate " was compatible with "equal." But of course they knew full well that the treatment of blacks was anything but equal, just as we must assume that the majorities in Citizens United and McCutcheon know that big money is corrupting our democracy.

Then in 2000, with some of today's disgraceful majority already on the Court, a partisan majority decided a presidential election in Bush v. Gore. There's good evidence that the five-person majority, in shutting down the quest for an honest count of the vote in Florida, understood that they were distorting the law to achieve the result they desired--clear because in the decision itself they warned against treating their logic as a precedent for use in future matters.

Put all these decisions together with the Citizens United (2010) and the recent McCutcheon decisions, and we see that the same dark spirit is at work in each case. The kindredness of spirit is shown not so much in their disregard for the law to achieve a pre-determined result as in the nature of the results they sought.

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. He is the author of various books including The Parable of the Tribes: The (more...)
 
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Schmookler for Congress! Why stop there? Schmookle... by Charles Roll on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 12:18:39 PM
And still,...no petitions to start impeachment he... by Bob Davey on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 3:22:45 PM
I'm afraid that terrible decisions are not impeach... by Andrew Schmookler on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 3:36:17 PM
Andrew, Samuel Chase was impeached in 1804 for p... by Bob Davey on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 4:04:40 PM
Interesting about the Chase impeachment. However,... by Andrew Schmookler on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 4:42:55 PM
We would do well to threaten to pack the court. Ob... by Pal Palsimon on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 5:47:27 PM
Pal,  I think somebody has to die first. ... by Bob Davey on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 11:06:54 PM
Didn't Justice Thomas lie under oath when he was ... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014 at 12:55:17 AM
You said you can do that right now?  Go right... by Pal Palsimon on Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014 at 1:33:02 AM
I can't do it, we can. And in order to do it eas... by BFalcon on Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 at 10:40:28 PM
"WE" could do a lot of things if "WE" would but "W... by Pal Palsimon on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 10:08:47 AM
Not we that include me. ... by BFalcon on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 10:28:15 AM
If they have ruled the other way, they might have ... by Pal Palsimon on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 5:44:35 PM
That's funny, I was thinking the exact opposite. I... by Bob Davey on Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 9:20:16 AM
What good is the majority vote if we have to choos... by Shireen Parsons on Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 1:00:54 PM
We do not have the power to select the candidates,... by Pal Palsimon on Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 1:47:06 PM
Looks like a matter of who the judges are and how ... by Pal Palsimon on Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 12:25:36 AM
Petitions, petitions, petitions. They are everywhe... by Pal Palsimon on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 5:42:46 PM
At least it's a beginning. Every battle has to sta... by Bob Davey on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 11:08:15 PM
Don't deny it. Petitions take a lot of time, money... by Pal Palsimon on Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 12:26:26 AM
Yeah, petitions,..yuck. Occasionally they provid... by Bob Davey on Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 9:14:06 AM
If we cannot imagine justice as the fair treatmen... by Arianna Marie Cigolini on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 5:00:24 PM
The Constitution gives the governors the right to ... by Pal Palsimon on Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 1:53:10 PM
Yes, they did say  "all men are created equal... by Pal Palsimon on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 5:23:40 PM
Wonderful article here, and remember, Plato also ... by Pal Palsimon on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 5:39:50 PM
Pal, How many more "constitutional amendments" w... by Bob Davey on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 11:38:58 PM
Yes, if that is what it takes. I personally think ... by Pal Palsimon on Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 12:21:49 AM
click hereBugliosi says it all ... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 5:53:58 PM
Yes, this is just another example of abuse by the ... by Pal Palsimon on Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 2:01:28 PM
Schmookler wrote: "Our founders' great contributio... by Shireen Parsons on Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 12:55:39 PM
Absolutely right. We women know. Thanks Shireen. ... by Pal Palsimon on Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 1:40:45 PM