It was a change in government that few Americans seem to realize. Last week the U.S. Supreme Court put us on notice that we were no longer going to be a government “of the people, for the people and by the people”. It was a political coup.
Conservatives have hypocritically complained for decades about “activist judges”. They claim that liberal activist judges ignored or reversed legal precedents (like Jim Crow laws) and created laws from fictional rights. But no liberal Court has ever been as activist as our current U.S. Supreme Court, certainly not to the extent of fundamentally destroying our democracy. True, the U.S. Supreme Court did intervene to change the outcome of a Presidential election in 2000, but ignoring the popular vote to choose a president is relatively minor compared to what they did to us last week.
Last week the activist conservative judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, decided that we would no longer have a government of, by and for the People and we would now have a government of, by and for insurance companies and corporations. The radical activist Judges reversed decades of legal precedents, including rulings by previous Supreme Courts, and decided that in between the lines and hidden behind the words of the Constitution of the United States was the intent of our Founding Fathers that corporations, even multi-national corporations, have all of the same rights as any individual person who was a citizen. Among those rights was the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money to affect the outcome of any election. For example, if a mayor or city council in your city refuses to allow a chemical company to dump toxic waste into the ground water, that corporation can spend millions of dollars to create a recall and millions more to make sure a candidate who will let them pollute is elected.
Now some people are naïve or disingenuous enough to suggest that money has nothing to do with the outcomes of elections because ultimately it comes down to votes. A candidate with no money won’t be heard by the electorate. Who will have the money to run ads to counter the non-stop negative ads or robocalls or all of the other negative campaign tactics used in elections? A candidate with no money can’t run a voter registration or “get out the vote” operation. There already are examples of how money from corporations have corrupted government: big money contributions from corporations have gotten pro-business judges elected in numerous States. Judges elected with the financial support of corporations have reversed long-standing legal precedents, reverse jury verdicts and created almost insurmountable obstacles for individual citizens to get justice. Legislatures also have been co-opted by corporate dollars. For example, we recently saw how a couple Senators who take millions of dollars from health care corporations and insurance companies completely obstructed a Health Care Reform Bill that would have benefited every American citizen.
So Judges Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito have reversed over 60 years of laws, fabricated a right and set into motion the end of our democratic institutions. Shame on them and shame on us if we don’t fight back this hostile but subtle coup.