How a Corporatist Supreme Court Cabal Joined Forces With Right Wing and Kochs to Quietly Sell Out Our Democracy
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Bill Watterson is Mark Twain--with a drawing pen. He is a master cartoonist, but also a sharp-witted observer of the absurd, with an impish sense of humor. From 1985-1995, Watterson penned "Calvin and Hobbes," the truly marvelous comic strip that featured six-year-old Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes. In Calvin's inventive and iconoclastic mind, Hobbes was a genuine tiger (and his best friend) and they shared boundless adventures that challenged conventional thinking and defied authority, often crashing right through the prescribed social order of the 'real' world.
A recurring theme in the strip was a two-player baseball competition in which both the kid and the tiger simply made up the rules as they went. In one strip, Calvin has hit the ball thrown by Hobbes, and he's scampering toward home plate:
Calvin: Ha Ha! A home run!
Hobbes: You didn't touch all the bases!
Calvin: I did, too.
Hobbes: No, you didn't. You didn't touch seventh base.
Calvin: Yes, I did! I touched the water barrel right after the front porch.
Hobbes: That's not seventh base. That's twelfth base!
Calvin: I thought the garage door was twelfth.
Hobbes: The garage door is twenty-third base. You touched them all out of order, and you didn't touch the secret base.
Calvin: The secret base?? What's the secret base?!
Hobbes: I can't tell you. It's a secret.
That exchange between a six-year-old and a stuffed tiger pretty well sums up the nonsensical political gamesmanship being played out today by the five-man lineup of corporatists on the Supreme Court: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. They are on an unrestrained ideological tear, making up their own rules to score big points for corporate power. Reasoning? Try twenty-third base! Precedent? Throw it out! History? Rewrite it! The Constitution? Slide by it! Judicial restraint? Only for liberals! Logic? That's a secret! The rule of law? The law is us!
Only, this isn't a game. Barely six years into Roberts' tenure, he and his narrow majority have thoroughly politicized the Court. The one branch of our national government that was intentionally designed by the Founders to set the rule of law above politics has been turned into another political front group to advance corporate rule. The Constitution granted life tenure to the justices specifically so they could feel free to stand up to wealthy wrongdoers--particularly those avaricious business schemers who wanted to endanger the people's rule by establishing, as Jefferson put it, "the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations."
Hiding under robes
"Leveling the playing field can sound like a good thing. But in a democracy, campaigning for office is not a game." --Chief Justice John Roberts, fumbling a sports metaphor in a June ruling that does, indeed, tilt the political field to assure that corporate-backed players win the crucial money game.
In case after case, the five hard-core Republicans of the Roberts Court have been chopping furiously at the hard-earned legal rights of workers, consumers, voters, and others who dare to challenge the power of big business elites to reign over us, both politically and economically. There has been way too little public attention focused on (much less a sustained political challenge to) what has become a spectacular abuse of government power. A survey last year by the Pew Center found that nearly three-fourths of Americans have no idea who John Roberts is. Eight percent named Thurgood Marshall as the chief justice (and I certainly wish he was, even though he's been dead for 18 years).