Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Supreme Corporate of the United States!

A recent bar complaint states that Justice Clarence Thomas participated in a case involving a party that had contributed $100,000 to support his campaign for the Supreme Court misses the point.

Perhaps Thomas should have recused himself in the Citizens United case, since its plaintiffs had helped him get on the Supreme Court. A judge is supposed to recuse himself whenever there is, not only an actual conflict of interest, but when there is merely the appearance of a conflict of interest. And even Clarence Thomas has the brainpower to see that there is the appearance of a conflict of interest there.

But this misses the point. Citizens United establises that corporations have constitutional rights indepenent of the laws creating them; they're people too! So why should they not have one or more Justices representing them on the Supreme Court? In fact, why shouldn't a corporation have the right to hold public office - to be a Supreme Court justice itself?

I don't see any text in our federal constitution that limits what the President may nominate as a candidate for any office, except a replacement VP would have to fit the qualifications for President.

And I don't see any text limiting the Senate's power to "advise and consent" except for the then-existing rules of the senate.

Until a President nominates and a Senate confirms a corporation for federal office, there would be no "case or controversy" under which the question may be decided, so we'll have to wait until corporations take their rightful place on the Supreme Court before suing over it. Since nothing can compel a Justice to recuse him, her or itself from a case, we would have to simply hope that Justice Murray Hill will voluntarily recuses itself or rules with more impartiality than contractors show in administering federal contracts.

An advantage of corporations holding federal office is that they could hire contractors to fill those positions. When a contract Justice wishes to retire, instead of a messy and complicated nomination and vetting process, the corporation would simply locate another contractor. If special expertise is required, the corporation can substitute an employee filling the bill. And let us not forgo the benefits of outsourcing! With advanced telecommunications, we can save money by contracting out judgeships to call centers in other nations!
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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