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The Corporate Supreme Court; Time For Impeachment

By       Message Ralph Nader     Permalink
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Five Supreme Court Justices--Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito and Kennedy
are entrenching, in a whirlwind of judicial dictates, judicial
legislating and sheer ideological judgments, a mega-corporate supremacy
over the rights and remedies of individuals.



The artificial entity called "the corporation" has no mention in our
Constitution whose preamble starts with "We the People," not "We the
Corporation."



Taken together the decisions are brazenly over-riding sensible
precedents, tearing apart the state common law of torts and blocking
class actions, shoving aside jury verdicts, limiting people's "standing
to sue", pre-empting state jurisdictions--anything that serves to
centralize power and hand it over to the corporate conquistadores.



Here are some examples. (For more see thecorporatecourt.com).
Remember  the disastrous Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska's Prince
William Sound twenty two years ago? It destroyed marine life and the
livelihoods of many landowners, fishermen and native Alaskans. Its toxic
effects continue to this day.


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Well, after years of litigation by Alaskan fishermen, the Supreme Court
took the case to review a $5 billion award the trial court had assessed
in punitive damages. A 5 to 3 decision lowered the sum to $507.5 million
which is less than what Exxon made in interest by delaying the case for
twenty years. Moreover, the drunken Exxon captain's oil tanker calamity
raised the price of gasoline at the pump for awhile. Exxon actually
made a profit despite its discharge of 50 million gallons.



The unelected, life-tenured corporate court was just getting started and
every year they tighten the noose of corporatism around the American
people.



In Bush v. Gore (5-4 decision), the Court picked the more corporate
president of the United States in 2000, leaving constitutional scholars
thunderstruck at this breathtaking seizure of the electoral process,
stopping the Florida Supreme Court's ongoing state-wide recount. The
five Republican Justices behaved as political hacks conducting a
judicial coup d'e'tat.


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But then what do you expect from justices like Thomas and Scalia who
participate in a Koch brothers' political retreat or engage in
extrajudicial activities that shake the public confidence in the highest
court of the land.



Last year came the Citizens United v. FEC case where the Republican
majority went out of its way to decide a question that the parties to
the appeal never asked. In a predatory "frolic and detour," the 5
justices declared that corporations (including foreign companies) no
longer have to obey the prohibitory federal law and their own court's
precedents.



Corporations like Pfizer, Aetna, Chevron, GM, Citigroup, Monsanto can
spend unlimited funds (without asking their shareholders) in independent
expenditures to oppose or support candidates for public office from a
local city council election to federal Congressional and Presidential
elections.



Once again our judicial dictatorship has spoken for corporate privilege and power overriding the rights of individual voters.



Eighty percent of the American people, reported a Washington Post poll,
reject the Court's view that a business corporation is entitled to the
same free speech rights as citizens.



Chances are very high that in cases between workers and companies,
consumers and companies, communities and corporations, tax payers and
military contractors--big business wins.


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Inanimate corporations created by state government charters have risen
as Frankensteins to control the people through one judicial activist
decision after another. It was the Supreme Court in 1886 that started
treating a corporation as a "person" for purposes of the equal
protection right in the fourteenth amendment. Actually the scribe
manufactured that conclusion in the headnotes even though the Court's
opinion did not go that far. But then it was off to the races. These
inanimate giants, astride the globe, have privileges and immunities that
"We the People" can only dream about, yet they have equal
constitutional rights with us (except for the right against
self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment) and more limited privacy rights.)



What is behind these five corporate Justices' decisions is a commercial
philosophy that big business knows best for you and your children. These
Justices intend to drive this political jurisprudence to further
extremes, so long as they are in command, to twist our founders clear
writings that the Constitution was for the supremacy of human beings.



To see how extreme the five corporate justices are, consider the strong
contrary view of one of their conservative heroes, the late Chief
Justice William Rehnquist in a case where a plurality of justices threw
out a California regulation requiring an insert in utility bills
inviting residential ratepayers to band together to advance their
interests against Pacific Gas and Electric. The prevailing justices
said--get this--that it violated the electric company monopoly's first
amendment right to remain silent and not respond to the insert's
message.


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Ralph Nader is one of America's most effective social critics. Named by The Atlantic as one of the 100 most influential figures in American history, and by Time and Life magazines as one (more...)
 

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