Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 34 Share on Twitter 1 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

6 Ways Our Supreme Court Has Defiled Our Constitution

By       (Page 1 of 3 pages)   3 comments
Message Gary Corseri
Become a Fan
  (9 fans)

6 Ways Our Supreme Court Has Defiled Our Constitution

By Gary Corseri

O tenderest of mercies!   The right to speak one's mind freely, the right to question and challenge--upon which all other rights are hinged!

1. "Corporate Personhood"

The first attack came almost two hundred years ago in 1819, as the Industrial Revolution was beginning to spin serious wheels in the budding Empire.   Blacks picked cotton in the South and the mills hummed in Lowell, Mass., and other river-blessed locations in the North.   It was a hundred years after Newcomen's steam engine, and less than two decades after Fulton's steamboat would once again spur our westward expansion.   Given such multifactoral impetus, and its own proclivity--established by Marshall--to oversight, how could our Supreme Court restrain its worst intentions?

And so it declared, in "Trustees of Dartmouth College vs Woodward," the principle of "corporate personhood."   The Court was essentially restating the 14th Amendment, but now equating the "rights" of corporations to be as free as real, live, human beings from any State's denial of "equal protection"   under the laws within its jurisdiction.  

Of course, this 14th Amendment "equal protection" did not apply to cotton-picking slaves, "Indian savages," women, etc.!    And that's the assault on our national consciousness and conscience.   And we have lived with that assault for nearly two centuries!  

2. "Fire in a Crowded Theater"

Fast forward exactly 1 century.   Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. is now Chief Justice, and the "budding Empire" is now fully fledged, not content with spreading its eagle-wings over its own continent, but, since the Monroe Doctrine, having declared its hegemony over the Western hemisphere, tightening such with the Spanish-American war--the result of which sees it slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Filipinos when they declare their own right to "freedom of speech" and an independent republic!  

Up to my own boyhood in New York City, Oliver Wendell Holmes' father's poem, "Old Ironsides," was still standard 9th grade fare.   They say the acorn doesn't fall far from the oak, and we may discern something of his son's patriotic fervor in his father's bombastic poem about an a War of 1812 ship about to be scuttled.   Here's the middle stanza:

Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o'er the flood,
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor's tread,
Or know the conquered knee;--
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!

The "hero's blood" with which Oliver, Jr. wanted to anoint the world, the "victor's tread" he wanted to protect, belonged to those doughboys drafted to fight Mr. Wilson's "War To End All Wars."   A group of peacniks had tried to exercise their freedom of speech by distributing flyers opposed to the draft.   When the case of "Schenck v. the United States" came before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Holmes argued in favor of abridging free speech, asserting:

"The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent."

Thus, Holmes provides us two salient phrases in one short paragraph: "shouting fire in a theater" and "clear and present danger."  

Defenders of Holmes like to underline the word "falsely" to excuse their man's unsubtle attack on our First Amendment.   I think they miss the point.   Is the distribution of anti-war material really analogous to "falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater?"   One could argue that the peace cadets were actually trying to prevent or contain the fire that was then enveloping the world!   Further, the "clear and present danger" was already there--it was called the Great War!  

Fifty years later, during another unnecessary war (as almost all wars are--despite the pageantry and rhetoric), the Supreme Court at least tempered Holmes' imperious judgment in the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio, limiting "banned speech" to the incitation of "imminent lawless action."   Of course, a lot of damage had been done in the meantime.   Free speech had been suppressed, and generations had come and gone censoring themselves and others.  

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Gary Corseri Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Gary Corseri has published & posted his work at hundreds of venues worldwide, including Op Ed News, The New York Times, CounterPunch, CommonDreams, DissidentVoice, L.A. (and Hollywood--) Progressive. He has been a professor in the US & Japan, has (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Rise of Our Dumbocracy (A Review of Paul Craig Roberts' "How America Was Lost")

"Bring Back Our Girls!"

Mourning John F. Kennedy and a Half-Century of Degraded Arts and Culture

"17 Camels: Can a Sufi Tale Heal Our Broken World?"

Safe Passage..., with a Big IF: A Review of Paul Craig Roberts' THE FAILURE OF LAISSEZ FAIRE CAPITALISM

Planetary Consciousness and the Tears of the World: A Review of Carolyn Baker's "Collapsing Consciously"

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend