The U.S. Supreme Court vs. the American people
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Over the last two years, our (and I use that word loosely) Supreme Court has handed down two disastrous decisions potentially destroying our democratic system and people’s legal rights.
The first, in January, 2010, was in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, which was a challenge by a corporate front group – hiding behind that name – to the commission’s denial of its tax-exempt status because of its financial involvement in election campaigning.
But five members of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice (all of whom had declared their abhorrence of “judicial activism”), brazenly twisting the scope of the case beyond that simple issue into a constitutional case.
In the Senate hearings for their appointments, they had all declared their respect for the careful judgments of the Founders and decisions of previous courts. Instead they turned the Citizens United case into an opportunity to declare that corporations have the same First Amendment “free speech” rights as U.S. citizens, and that this includes the right to pour as much money as they choose into the election process, and that money is a legitimate way of exercising their right to free speech.
This flies in the face of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which speak only of “the people.” When I look in the dictionary for a definition of the word “people”, I find “human beings” and “persons.” How can that possibly be misconstrued to include corporations except by intent most foul.
These five justices also ignored the repeated insistence by Congress and previous presidents (including Theodore Roosevelt) and the laws of 22 states, all outlawing corporate spending on elections, as well as disregarding clearly established judiciary precedents confirming that prohibition. These five misguided justices must believe literally in the axiom “Money talks.”
The implications of this decision can be catastrophic to the survival of our government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Instead we will be governed by corporations solely for their benefit.
Corporations, presumably including foreign corporations (not specifically excluded in the decision), will be able to deliver unlimited amounts of concealed money to front organizations hiding behind euphemistic names like “Save the American Way,” set up for the specific purpose of supporting candidates who will do their bidding, and defeating candidates who will not. They will have the means, and will use it to dominate the air waves and news media and drown out the message of any candidate who has the temerity to try to challenge their supremacy. Just the 100 largest corporations have annual revenues of $13 trillion.
The corporate argument is that the ruling justices made the process “fair and balanced” by giving the same right to labor unions. Fair and balanced? The combined assets of all American unions amount to just one-tenth of 1 percent of the assets of our country’s four largest banks. Goldman Sachs alone paid bonuses to its top executives amounting to three times total union assets.
So how do we fight this juggernaut? One way would be to reverse the decision by a constitutional amendment, but since corporate lackeys will control the amendment process, that stands no chance.
Another possibility would be to pass a law requiring that every political contribution by their respective organizations be approved by a majority of shareholders in corporations, and members of unions.
But if we value our right to choose our government, we the people must wake up to this serious challenge to that right, reject the deluge of corporate propaganda, and vote for candidates who are on our side.
The second Supreme Court affront to the rights of the American people was the decision that the female employees of Walmart were not sufficiently alike to file a class-action claim against their employer challenging an alleged company-wide policy of paying them significantly less than male employees in similar positions.
True, they were from all over the country, but they were all women, and all were experiencing the same discrimination in compensation under what appeared to be company-wide policy. What more did they have to do to have the right to file a class-action lawsuit? Be clones?
The Supreme Court, in handing down its decision, said the women still had the right to file individual suits. Isn’t that great. What chance does an individual have going up against a multi-billion dollar corporate giant? This action gives corporations grounds for a virtual exemption from class-action lawsuits by their employees, allowing them to treat their employees as unfairly as they choose.
“As I See It” appears on the first and third Thursdays of the month. Hal Sundin lives in Glenwood Springs and is a retired environmental and structural engineer. Contact him at email@example.com.
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