Saturday, July 5, 2014

Conservatives Supremes....Thy Name is Cynicism


I'm convinced that the conservative Supremes have abandoned all pretense of being judicial. Chief Justice John Roberts doesn't even appear to care about the ultimate legacy of the Roberts Court anymore. They don't know how long it will be until there is another Republican president so they have to strike while the iron is hot and they still have a majority. Therefore, they are simply accepting cases in which they can move the pendulum rightward as far and as fast as they can. Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia are a right-wing radical's wet dream, having never met arch-conservative idea they didn't like. 

The Big Daddy decision of the conservative court was Bush v Gore, of course. That was when we first saw shockingly naked partisanship in action and got a glimpse of the future. The rationale for declaring George W Bush president never made sense. "Hanging" chads versus "dimpled" chads. Yep, that's a great excuse for deciding an election of president of the United States, all right. But they already knew how they were going to vote and that was as good a reason as any. 

Since then, we've had the infamous "corporations are people" and "money is free speech" decisions that have turned the election process upside down and sold democracy to the highest bidder. 

We had the gutting of the civil rights act because "they aren't trying to stop African-Americans from voting, they're trying to stop Democrats from voting and hey, that's not our problem." Naturally, before this ruling was hot off the presses, the red states that had previously been targeted for past discriminatory behavior, jumped in with onerous new restrictions. North Carolina and Texas were practically screaming, "nyah, nyah, nyah, the Court is on our side now! What are ya' gonna' do about it?"

In this year's docket, the conservative court ruled against unions in Harris vs. Harris. The Court held 5-4 that the government could not force home care personal assistants to pay union dues if they did not wish to join the union. Put together with earlier decisions, the right-leaning Supremes have weakened union rights all along the way.  

At the same time, of course, is the Hobby Lobby decision and that goes back to that original bugaboo that corporations are people. Alito argued that corporations are really the humans who own them and thus, able to have religious beliefs. The conservatives did stipulate "closely held" corporations but the majority of corporations are "closely held", including Walmart, the largest of them all. 

The Court carved out a very narrow exemption. It only applies to contraceptives. The denominations that don't believe in transfusions cannot rely on this opinion. The corporations that may be opposed to vasectomies (because, after all, sex is only for pro-creation) cannot use this opinion. Men who count on erectile dysfunction products for satisfying sex lives are safe. Nope, it only applies to women's issues, say the five Catholic males who dominate all of our lives. Their ruling was based on "religious freedom" but obviously, some religious freedoms are more equal than others, depending on the justices own personal views.

Narrow though it may be, I see this decision as the camel's nose under the tent. If corporations can justify not following the law on one issue, there will surely be more tests coming down the pike involving others, such as the "religious freedom" not to hire LGBT employees. 

Of course, to any normal human being not swayed by politics, corporations are definitely not people. They become corporations to protect themselves from the liabilities of being people. If the corporation goes bankrupt, the people who own it can walk away. If the corporation is sued for negligence, the people who own it can shrug it off. Why did the people who practically took down the American economy with their shoddy business practices get off scot-free? Because it was their corporations that screwed up, not them personally. Now though, the people who own businesses have the best of both worlds - the shield that being a corporation provides while still being counted as people when they want to discriminate.

It used to be that Supreme Court justices bent over backwards to maintain their public neutrality in order to protect the people's faith in the court as an impartial arbiter but they don't bother with that anymore.  

As Media Matters reports: Ginni Thomas (wife of Clarence Thomas, who will probably go down in history as the worst Supreme Court Justice in American history) was the founder and leader of Liberty Central, a political nonprofit “dedicated to opposing what she characterizes as the leftist ‘tyranny’ of President Obama and Democrats in Congress.” The group was funded by Harlan Crow, frequent patron of the Thomas’ projects and causes and a financial supporter of right-wing campaigns such as the “swift boat” attacks on then-presidential candidate John Kerry and the advertising push to confirm President George W. Bush’s Supreme Court nominees. Crow also serves on the board of the American Enterprise Institute, whose Edward Blum brought the two most recent attacks on the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action before the Supreme Court. Justice Thomas favored Blum’s positions against progressive precedent on both civil rights issues.

Alito and Scalia frequently speak to conservative groups, making no bones about their politics.

We frequently talk about the partisan divide in this country as epitomized by Congress but that is to be expected in the political realm. We expect more from the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, what we are getting is more of the same from the almighty bench.  


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