How the Supreme Court Is on the Verge of Delivering Even Greater Power to Corporations
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Though defeated politically by the early 19th Century, the Federalists — or at least their view of the Constitution – prevailed as the central government took on more and more responsibility for building the young and expanding nation. Ironically, too, the warning from Patrick Henry and George Mason about the fate of slavery also turned out to be prescient. Eventually, the North did move to eradicate slavery at the end of the Civil War.
Then, in the face of the Great Depression in the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt again tapped into the “pragmatic nationalism” of the Federalists, enacting wide-ranging social legislation to provide for the “general Welfare.” The Federalists’ Constitution – written so future generations could deal with unanticipated challenges threatening the nation’s well-being – continued to prevail through the 1960s and into the 1970s.
However, the Right never abandoned its crimped and revisionist interpretation of the Constitution, that it didn’t empower the federal government to do what the words of the Constitution said. Especially, in the South, white supremacists continued to insist on the extra-constitutional theories of “nullification” and on state “sovereignty,” though it was eliminated when the Articles of Confederation were scrapped in 1787.
Though not based on a literal reading of the Constitution’s words, the Right’s revisionist interpretation gained traction because of the increased power of right-wing propaganda and because the American Left generally disdained the Constitution for other reasons, its defense of property rights and its compromises with Southern slaveholders.
So, instead of the Right’s interpretation being viewed as make-believe, many Americans came to see the Right as defending the Founding document and liberals and the Left as violating its principles. Justice Scalia, in particular, has pushed this notion that he represents the “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution though he clearly doesn’t. He really is just a right-wing ideologue who passes himself off as a legal theorist.
But that is the way the Right has rolled when it comes to the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, whose primary author and creator was Alexander Hamilton. The right-wing ideologues cherry-pick a few quotes from the Federalist Papers and twist whatever words might be useful in the Constitution — and then count on the mainstream news media to shy away from any serious debate over the “complexity” of the constitutional history.
With such legal “scholarship” prevailing, it shouldn’t come as a total surprise that today’s Supreme Court Five might end up ruling that a corporation’s “freedom of religion” trumps the religious and moral beliefs of actual citizens. Whatever it takes to undermine Obamacare!