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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/19/23

What the Supreme Did to America When They Legalized Political Bribery

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A person holding an envelope with cash. Bribe, corruption
A person holding an envelope with cash. Bribe, corruption
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Reprinted from hartmannreport.com

It's hard to overstate how much damage these corrupt rulings by Republicans on the Court -- from Buckley and Bellotti in 1976/1978 to Citizens United in 2010 -- have done to American democracy

I took a couple of flights this past weekend that reminded me again of the damage Republicans on the Supreme Court did to America when they legalized political bribery.

The good news is that there are numerous things Congress can do to undo the Court's bizarre doctrine that money is the same thing as free speech and corporations have Bill of Rights freedoms and protections as "persons."

Neither of these "rights to bribe" by the morbidly rich and corporations were recognized in the early years of our republic. Even today we're unique among advanced democracies in holding these Supreme Court-created doctrines which underpin much if not most of today's political corruption.

Congress has never, in the history of the United States, passed a law saying rich people buying politicians is the same thing as free speech or that corporations have a right to bribe politicians and lie to the public. To the contrary, Congress has passed hundreds of laws -- which were overturned by these three Supreme Court decisions -- regulating money in politics and criminalizing political corruption.

The Court's inventing these twin doctrines has even corrupted the other two branches of government, leading today to legislative paralysis, an erosion of civil and voting rights, and widespread public cynicism.

The Executive branch of our government has done a lot of damage over the past five decades, from Nixon committing treason to blow up LBJ's 1968 peace talks with Vietnam so he could beat VP Humphrey in that election, to Reagan's massive tax cuts and defunding of our schools and colleges, to Bush's two illegal and unnecessary $8 trillion wars, to Trump's burning spies by passing classified information along to Russian intelligence while president.

The Legislative branch has also played a role in most of those fiascos and crimes, as well as the current Republican circus in the House of Representatives.

During the Bush presidency they passed legislation allowing for more pollution (the Clear Skies Act), getting around environmental rules that protect our forests (the Healthy Forest Restoration Act), and defunding the IRS and the EPA, the perennial enemies of the fossil fuel industry and their billionaires who own the GOP.

But all the treachery of both branches pales in comparison to the damage the US Supreme Court has done to our country ever since Richard Nixon put Lewis Powell -- author of the infamous "Powell Memo" that told billionaires how to take over American media, courts, colleges, and seize ownership of our politicians -- on the Court and it began its long swing to the hard right.

In fact, it was Powell's work and influence on the Court that made possible the corruption of the Executive and Legislative branches mentioned above.

Most people know that the Republicans on the Supreme Court, beginning with the Powell/Rehnquist eras, began an aggressive war on unions, consumer protections, voting rights, and civil rights. But few realize that those Supreme Court doctrines are also responsible for the death of 2,977 innocent people on 9/11.

I flew to Michigan earlier this week because my niece was dying from what I consider medical malpractice in a hospital cutting back on staffing to support the millions paid to its senior executives -- another problem facilitated by the Supreme Court -- although that's a story for another time.

On the flights, though, I again noticed that the cockpit doors were fully hardened. (I've been a licensed pilot since 1972, so tend to notice what's going on with airplanes and jets.) The doors to the cockpits were sheathed with what looked like stainless steel, securely locked, and each had a keypad with a secure pin code necessary to gain entry.

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)

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