Monday, June 25, 2012

The Supreme Corporate Sold You Out Today

I got a big laugh out of today's Supreme Court decisions. While most of the media was debating whether Arizona's "Papers Please!" law was good or bad (...and whether Arizona won by losing 3 out of 4 of its issues...) the long-term damage to all Americans was done by the Court's summary and cowarly overturning of the Montana Supreme Court.

You see, the State of Montana had a long history of rich people buying elections. Back when Senators were chosen by the Legislature, one guy handed out $10,000 in cash to every state senator who voted for him ... and got into the U.S. Senate.
This outraged Montanans so much that they passed a law forbidding stuff like that, and especially forbidding corporations to sink money into elections.
The Supreme Corporate in Full Regalia
(an older photo, omitting Justice Kagan)
This wasn't a problem for a century, but in 2010 the Federal Supreme Court decided to legislate on the matter. In a case called Citizens United, the parties argued on a minor matter of campaign finance, but Chief Roberts decided he wanted to re-write the law. While it is unconstitutional for the Supreme Court to rule on a matter not brought before it, all that means is that you need 5 "Justices" to go along with it ... and no-one else has a say.
The core of the argument was Justice Anthony Kennedy's claim that independent campaign expenditures by corporations “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Now that's a really interesting thing to say, partly because that is a claim of fact, not a claim of law. Appeallate judges aren't supposed to make determinations of fact, only of the application of law to facts established at the trial level.
Also, it's nonsense. Only a willfully stupid person could make that claim ... or a liar. And I know for a fact that tony Kennedy is not stupid; I took a class from him on summer in law school. He was a nice old guy, sort of like a senior bank president who enjoyed talking with younger people on subjects on which he was an expert. His was not a sparkling or witty intellect, but solid enough at making conversation on subject that, after all, he had studied for decades. There's no way he could believe that money didn't corrupt politics; he's just not that stupid.
Now Citizens United didn't directly strike down state laws; state laws weren't in front of the Court. But of course people with money are inconvenienced by state laws, and sued Montana. Its State Supreme court took note of the facts introduced at trial, evidencing a long history of corruption, and used that as the basis of its decision that Montana's law fit within the exception allowed by Citizens United.
Appeals followed, and the Federal Supreme Court had the chance to take another look at Citizens United. Since the claim of Kennedy had been roundly disproven by facts, the Court should have let the parties argue it out; alternatively, the Supreme Court could have done nothing, and let Montana be Montana.
Instead, the five corrupt "Justices" on the Supreme Corporate summarily overturned the Montana Supreme Court. They even lacked the guts to allow oral argument on the subject; they simply ordered the Montana law overturned and money to be spent freely to buy Montana elections.
There is no need to be subtle about this. The Rehnquist/Roberts court is the worst in American history since the Taney Court, which produced the Dred Scott decision, leading to the Civil War. You could argue that even Taney wasn't as bad, because slavery was a crime built into our nation from the beginning, and lancing it was going to be a killer no matter what the Supreme Court did.
It was bad enough when the Rehnquist court re-wrote the law of the stay in Bush v. Gore (ruling that only the political interests of Bush could be considered, and not those of Gore or of voters generally to have an accurate count.) That resulted in a corrupt Administration that got thousands of Americans killed in Middle Eastern adventures that enriched the contractors and crippled our economy, but that damaged could be reversed with determined political action.
On the other hand, Citizens United and now this case leads to the sale of American elections at every level to the highest bidder; even state judicial elections are now open to unlimited cash! But unlike Dred Scott, this was purely optional on the part of Roberts, Kennedy, Scalia, Thoms and Alito.  The matter was not before the Court in Citizens United, and it was a violation of their oaths to consider it - much less to betray our entire political system to their backers. The customary political remedies for Supreme malfeasance are nullified by their action; they sold us all, and for this crime, will be known as the worst ever to sit on the Supreme Court.
For this achievement and in there honor, we must rename the Supreme Court; it is the Supreme Corporate.

No comments: