The US Declaration of Independence, signed in Philadelphia on July 4th, 1776, began with the sentence, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
Note please that no where in this first paragraph is there mention of companies, corporations, political action committees, filthy rich gazillionaires, or secret campaign contributors that can possibly buy elections out from under the democratic process of “one citizen, one vote”.
Everyone in the USA and many observant folks around the world know that in the US Supreme court case in 2010 known as “Citizens United“, the “Supremes” voted 5-4 to uphold the “right” of corporations to make massive and undocumented campaign contributions. In doing so, they opened the door to campaign funding abuse by the very rich and wealthy. After all, there is no way that the average middle class citizen could possibly donate several thousand (or several hundreds of thousands) dollars to a political campaign.
The majority opinion claimed it was a first amendment right to freedom of speech which protected these activities on the part of wealthy corporations, such as, but not exclusively, the Koch brothers and their political activism (read: organizing and sending massive amounts of cash to Tea Party campaigns).
The minority opinion stated in so many words, “bullshit!”
In this country, majority rule is an important concept and thus the “Supremes” conservative majority led the day.
The results, especially in this mid-term election year, have been nothing short of astounding. Wealthy conservatives donated millions of dollars to the conservative super-pacs such American for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, in which the infamous conservative billionaire Koch brothers are involved. These two brothers have literally contributed tens of millions of dollars of their own money to Tea Party candidates for federal office. And while one might think that they should be free to do so, there is no way that the average US citizen who votes could possibly make even a small dent in the Koch’s campaign contributions. The facts are that only the very rich, who tend to be conservative pro-corporation republicans, will be able to take advantage of this Supreme Court decision
The “Supremes”, unfortunately, were no where near done. Last July, in Shelby County v. Holder, they stuck down a long-standing provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which had been passed during the Civil Rights activism of the 1960’s to ensure that no state,and specifically most southern and some mid-west states, could enact discriminatory laws without the approval of the Federal Elections Commission. The “Supremes” basically said that none of these states was discriminatory and therefore that provision of the law was unconstitutional and unnecessary.
Immediately, several states, including Texas, voted to reduce voting sites and voting hours as well as early voting capabilities and increased need for identity checks for voters, which causes considerable hardship for poor, low-income voters who tend to vote democratic.
Finally, in their crowning achievement (so far) of putting America’s democratic elections up for sale to the highest bidder, the “Supremes” ruled just a couple of days ago in Schuette vs. Bamn that Michigan’ recent state constitutional amendment banning affirmative action as a factor in college admission is in fact NOT unconstitutional, per their view of the US Constitution.
This decision was a little tighter than the previous two, in that the “Supremes” voted 6-2. Interestingly, however, the two women justices in the decision, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (a third, Elena Kagan, had reclused herself), disagreed with the majority, citing the statistical fact that in states that do not practice affirmative action as a policy, college enrollment of minorities is down dramatically over states that do practice affirmative action.
In making this decision, the “Supremes” essentially reversed decades of policy that ensured that the racial discrimination of the previous 100 years would not be allowed to continue when it came to college admission.
And when all three decisions are taken together, it bodes ominously for the common middle class citizen, minorities, and the “little guy”, while empowering the wealthy and powerful to exercise an inordinate amount of influence over the US government and its democratic process, particularly regarding elections and education. Of course, conservatives love it because they see it as less government, more personal freedom (to abuse anyone else not powerful enough to stand up and stop it). So much for equal protection under law…
And this summer the “Supremes” will be ruling on whether private companies owned by religious zealots can dictate their religious dogma to their employees in the form of not allowing health insurance companies to provide their employees free birth control.
Depending upon their decision. this one just might get the “Supremes” branded as “activist judges..”.