How a Corporatist Supreme Court Cabal Joined Forces With Right Wing and Kochs to Quietly Sell Out Our Democracy
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Not only did pro-corporate decisions begin to flow, but the cabal also became brazen about its alliance with the right-wing Republican network that's now pushing aggressively in Washington, state capitals, and all of America's courts to rewrite laws so an "aristocracy of our moneyed corporations" can rise above the American people's democratic rights and authority. Jeff Shesol, author of Supreme Power (a history of FDR's fight with the Court), wrote a June New York Times op-ed about this "flurry of judicial fraternization," warning that it threatens to destroy the Court's credibility as an impartial guardian of the rule of law. Here's a sampling of their fraternization:
In 2010, Scalia was a featured participant in the Koch brothers' annual political retreat, joining assorted billionaires and GOP operatives as they plotted strategy and raised money for defeating Democrats. And this January, when tea party Republicans marched triumphantly into Washington to take their seats in Congress, they were welcomed by Scalia, who presented a constitutional tutorial to the newly minted partisans.
In 2008 and 2010, Alito lent his supreme prestige to the fund-raising efforts of the right-wing, anti-Democrat mag, American Spectator. He served as chief draw and keynote speaker at the group's 2008 fund-raiser, where he regaled wealthy funders with Joe Biden jokes. In 2009, he headlined a fundraiser for the Koch-backed Intercollegiate Studies Institute(which boasts the right-wing video trickster and criminal activist James O'Keefe among its alumnae). Also, in 2010, Alito was the chief sparklie at a high-dollar event for the Koch-funded Manhattan Institute.
Thomas, too, has put his judicial imprimatur on the Koch boys' annual plutocratic political gathering. He addressed their 2008 getaway at a Palm Springs resort, apparently enjoying four days there on the tab of the Koch-funded Federalist Society. He also is closely tied to the Heritage Foundation, which is richly financed by the Kochs. In 2009, he was the featured draw at a fundraiser for the group, which often takes part in Supreme Court cases--and which employed Thomas' wife, Ginny, from 2003-2007, paying her $686,000 that the justice "inadvertently omitted" from his financial disclosure filings. In addition, Thomas is corruptly entangled with Dallas real estate billionaire and right-wing political funder Harlan Crow. Even though Crow's financial and political interests are directly affected by the high court's rulings, Thomas has been injudiciously accepting a steady flow of gifts from the tycoon, including: a $175,000 donation from Crow to a Georgia library project dedicated to Thomas; a $2.8 million gift for an historic preservation project being developed under Thomas' supervision near his childhood home; and a $500,000 donation to Thomas' wife, Ginny, last year so she could start a tea party lobbying and political group (which, by the way, takes an aggressive partisan stance on legal questions that will soon come up for Justice Thomas' consideration, including Obama's health care law).
Good grief! Is there no code of ethics outlawing such rank conflicts of interest for federal judges? Yes. But, conveniently, Supreme Court justices have been exempted from the code.
Soiling clean elections
The Lowdown has periodically exposed the Court's slaphappy extremism and its make-up-the-rules activism as found in such now-infamous cases as Citizens United (see Sept. 2009, March 2010, and Feb. 2011 issues). In that 2010 ruling, using contorted language that even Orwell could not have dreamed up, the five actually re-wrote the laws of nature, decreeing that lifeless corporate entities are "persons" with a constitutional right to "speak" in every American election. These necromancers then invented a "voice" for corporate-speak: money. They ruled that top executives of these inanimate for-profit constructs are entitled to spend unlimited sums of corporate cash (money that belongs to shareholders, not to them) to run secretly funded campaigns for or against anyone they choose.