How a Corporatist Supreme Court Cabal Joined Forces With Right Wing and Kochs to Quietly Sell Out Our Democracy
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It's not that the public is stupid, but that the Court deliberately hides itself. No C-SPAN or other television cameras are allowed, even in the relatively few times the justices convene in public session. The bulk of the justices' official policy-making work takes place behind closed doors. They practically never have press conferences or give interviews, and some have even refused to let the media cover their 'public' speeches.
Curiously, mass media outlets show little journalistic curiosity about the doings of this tiny but enormously powerful third branch of our national government. If Obama so much as sneezes, newscasters and pundits are all over it, and hordes of reporters and analysts constantly poke into the back rooms and dark corridors of Congress. Yet, nine black-robed mandarins--with the power to overturn the decisions of the two elected branches, as well as decisions by state governments and even of the voting public-- sit in splendid obscurity in an imposing, white marble bunker, periodically tossing out rulings that essentially make law.
When the mass media do cover the Court (usually only when a new justice is named or a major edict is handed down), the reporting is superficial, even lazy. Two months ago, for example, the New York Times ran an" analysis" of decisions in the 2010-2011 term, concluding that the hallmark of the Roberts Court is "defending free speech." Never mind that it is corporate speech that they have radically enhanced, to the detriment of your voice and mine. But the Times didn't probe.
It's time for you and me to probe, because the Roberts-Alito-Kennedy-Scalia-Thomas cabal is openly aligning itself with the all-out political push by such far-right billionaires as the Koch brothers to impose a corporate plutocracy over America (see February 2010 and June 2011 Lowdowns). "Come on, Hightower," you might say, "such learned jurists wouldn't be engaged in such extremism." Oh? Remember Bush v. Gore in December 2000? In that case, five justices abruptly shoved their way into totally unprecedented, overtly partisan territory to dictate who would be America's president. With no need to do so, they imperiously interrupted a recount of the people's vote in Florida, usurped jurisdiction from state courts, invented a legal theory out of thin air, and arbitrarily seated corporate-favorite George W in the White House.
This was so far beyond the bounds of the Court's role, such an arrogant act of magisterial extremism, that none of the usurpers were willing to claim the decision as their own. None put their name on the opinion. Also, in an extraordinary confession, the opinion itself concedes its legal shoddiness by saying that it's a one-of-a-kind decision that should not be cited as a precedent for any other case. Tellingly, it hasn't been.
Eleven years later, three of those five Bush v. Gore judicial extremists--Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas--are still on the bench, forming a solid core of today's corporate cabal.
Also, while it's not widely known, Roberts himself was a key member of Bush's election-stealing team in Florida. A protege of Republican attack dog Kenneth Starr, Roberts was a corporate lawyer in Washington at the time (becoming a multimillionaire by helping such clients as Big Coal defend the abominable min-ing method of mountaintop removal). He was flown to Florida to polish legal briefs and do a dress rehearsal to prepare Bush's lead lawyer for getting the Supremes to seize the election for the Republican.
In 2005, George W returned the favor by entrust- ing the top spot on the nation's highest Court to this radical corporate activist. With the addition of Alito in 2006, Corporate America had its slim ideological majority in place.