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-- Brad Delong

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Deep Stupid #15 - SCOTUS Gives Away the Country

One small step for 5 reactionary SCOTUS leeches sucking at the copious tit of multinational corporations, one giant leap for fascism.

This idiotic decision in the Citizens united Case- an example of egregious, over-reaching judicial activism - can only be understood in the context of these two absurd and unjustifiable assumptions:

1) A corporation is a person. A living, breathing member of "We the People."

2) The donation of money is a form of speech.

At Slate,  Dahlia Lithwick reports:

While [Justice John Paul] Stevens is reading the portion of his concurrence about the "cautious view of corporate power" held by the framers, I see Justice Thomas chuckle softly. (Scalia takes on this argument in his concurrence.) Stevens hammers, more than once this morning from the bench on the principle that corporations "are not human beings" and "corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires." He insists that "they are not themselves members of 'We the People' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established."

 Thomas chuckles, while granting the equivalent of personal U.S. citizenship to corporations, many of which are foreign owned.

A very large percentage of U.S. corporations are owned by foreign persons or entities. In 2006, USA Today reported: "Nearly one in five U.S. oil refineries is owned by foreign companies. Foreign companies also have a sizable presence in running power plants, chemical factories and water treatment facilities in the United States." It was also reported that, "Roads and bridges built by U.S. taxpayers are starting to be sold off, and so far foreign-owned companies are doing the buying." In 2008, it was reported that foreign ownership of U.S. companies "more than doubled" between 1996 and 2005. To get a fix on the spending power, consider this: "The total receipts of foreign-owned companies were $1.7 trillion in 1996 and just $39 billion in 1971."

The court could have made a narrow decision, dealing specifically and exclusively with the matter before it, an attack-dog movie swift-boating Hillary Clinton, but instead chose to overturn more than 100 years of legal precedent, upheld repeatedly over that time, while giving the rights of American citizenship to EXXONMOBIL and THE DUBAI INVESTMENT GROUP,  to cite just a couple distressing examples.

Read reactions, pro and con, here.   I love it when Russ Feingold agrees with me.

Presented with a relatively narrow legal issue, the Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president. Ignoring important principles of judicial restraint and respect for precedent, the court has given corporate money a breathtaking new role in federal campaigns. 

- Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.

In recent days, I've been thinking that we are within a decade of having our once proud democratic republic devolve into fascisma political ideology that seeks to combine radical and authoritarian nationalism with a corporatist economic system.   Alas, for my naive optimism.  All we're lacking now are the jack-booted thugs.

I expect them at my door, just as soon a Google tells them where I live.

We are SO God damned screwed.



J said...

Yes, pretty nasty, but not unexpected. The second premise--giving money to political campaigns is like free speech!--seems absurd, though typical SCOTUS-like manipulation. Stevens dissent sounded fairly passionate. Now Google/Yahoo/MSN/Walmart et al can more or less buy any election or candidate, anywhere. Brave New World time.

My own view is this was all set up years ago, under Raygun, when the ENTIRE Senate, GOP and Dem, voted to confirm Il Duce Scalia; over half supported Rehnquist, ex-klansman.

Another slate-ster,Hasen, wrote an interesting article on the Citizens United v. FEC decision--I find Dahlia a bit, eh, drah-matic.

The SCOTUS gets away with this BS because the Senate and House refuse to stand up to them really. The Senate in theory has boo-coo power, could go "nuclear" as the hicks say--even revoke justices, I believe--but they choose not to.

It's like with the filibuster game: Reid won't make them filibuster, and he and his cronies won't revise the filibuster/cloture rules, even though they have the power to do so! The Demos simply concede.

scuzi rant.

Jazzbumpa said...

Rant is welcome and encouraged.

Justices can be impeached. But that takes political will.

Demos concede because they don't believe in the principles they are supposed to be supporting, and were pretty much owned by corporations, even before today.

My level of pessimism has been getting incrementally deeper for years. This week, the bottom fell out.

I worked for corporations my whole professional life. We are going to be steam-rolled.

I'm digging into my Scotch supply tonight.


Argyle said...

The United States became a corporation itself years ago. We have no constitution.

Jazzbumpa said...

Argyle -

With that in mind, since the curtain has now been rolled back, perhaps we should give them high marks for forthrightness.

Thanks for visiting.

J said...

Note that this decision relates to Feingold/McCain's reform of 2002. I have no love for either, but the Feingold/Mc. law did limit the amounts corporations could contribute to campaigns, and had other restrictions.

Now, the SCOTUS more or less revises...legislation, which senators VOTED in. And the senators were of course elected by citizens. Not to "wave dat flag" too much, but that is EXACTLY the politics via judicial fiat that the Jeffersonians feared back in the day (of course TJ had his own issues, but he did not give his blessing to the Federeal judiciary, which he considered a repeat of British Inns of Court ...).

Jeff. opposed Marshall's standing courts (ie SCOTUS)--and judicial review-- for years. Really it looks nearly unconstitutional--as with other Scalia/Rehnquist Court decisions, like the reversal on medical pot (also voted in).

Jazzbumpa said...

Yeah. It's not just McCain-Finegold. It's an entire 100 year body of legislation and judicial precedent that just got tossed overboard like a withered corps.

Right you are, J.


BadTux said...

Regarding the Constitutionality question, this one's pretty clear -- the SCOTUS was within its power to say, "you passed the law, but we won't enforce it." If the court systems says "We won't find anybody guilty who violates that law because that law isn't constitutional", well, you can arrest people all you want for violating that law, but you can't put'em in prison because the courts won't do it, you gotta let them go.

In other words, while this was a venal act, it was within the court's powers written into the Constitution.

There have, of course, been *real* instances of judicial overreach. For example, when the SCOTUS declared FDR's National Recovery Act to be unconstitutional, despite there being no judicial involvement anywhere within the NRA (i.e., no due process was involved, it was a simple spending program). FDR could have taken a stance of, "the Court has ruled, now let them enforce it," but instead let them get away with maintaining a precedent that laws not involving due process or the judicial process could be invalidated even though there is no power within the Constitution for that to happen -- the Constitution only gives the courts the right to refuse to enforce a law, not to say that a law that doesn't require their enforcement is invalid.

But of course that's neither here nor there, the Constitution is just a piece of paper, after all. I know that's true because President George W. Bush said so. Alrighty, then!

- Basdtux the Snarky Penguin

Jazzbumpa said...

Tux -

I'd agree with you if they had limited their decision to the matter before them. However, the scope of their decision takes the matter out of the realm of the 1st amendment issue they were supposed to be considering, and overturns more than 100 years of legislation and court precedent in the bargain. That is the over reach.


J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pagan Sphinx said...

You wrote:

"One small step for 5 reactionary SCOTUS leeches sucking at the copious tit of multinational corporations, one giant leap for fascism."

I don't understand why the average American isn't really that concerned about this. People are willing to give up our rights to the corporations. The same ones who have raped and abused our environment and our economy! The corporations are buying our vote to protect their interests. What a coup.

Anonymous said...

It's nice to know that we agree on some things. I have heard that Justice Stevens is going to retire. I guess the (R)'s will take control of the Senate so they can deny any pick that Obama wants :-(