Tuesday, June 21, 2011


They have an appointment for LIFE. They are not bound by the code of ethics that governs federal judges. They can rule on cases that directly impact their self-interest unfettered by the code of conduct that constrains the lower courts. Their decisions can affect the composition of the other two purportedly "co-equal" branches of government for generations. And the only thing stopping them from abusing their power is the "honor" system. They are the Supreme Court of the United States.

What happens when a Supreme Court Justice or Justices goes bad? For one, the Supreme Court no longer becomes the court of last resort where justice is served; but rather the place where justice for the least among us, but theoretically equal under the law, comes to die. Where the interests of the flesh-and-bone individual are no longer equally weighed against the interests of the corporate entity as generic representation of the individual.

Theoretically they can be impeached by the House of Representatives. But when impeachment is rendered quasi-impossible by a decision, Citizens United, that stacks the corporate oligarchs party in a commanding position against the wannabe corporate party, then the people lose. Republicans in the House, at least for now, are immune from the people's electoral wrath, having ascended to elective office on a mountain of well funded lies and unlimited corporate money laundered through myriad shady front organizations, thanks to the entrenched oligarchy, the kingdom within, that the Supreme Court has become.

Yesterday was a good day for the corporation and a blow to 1.6 million women seeking gender-neutral equality in the workplace. By a 5-4 decision, five Supreme Court men ruled against three women Justices to deny women employees of Wal-Mart such equality of opportunity, once again elevating the corporation (too big to sue) over the individual. It passed with nary a sniffle from a distracted and misinformed electorate as part of a wider and sinister conspiracy on multiple fronts to wrest democracy away from the people. If the states were once called the "laboratories of democracy" then today, under the yoke of one-party Republican control not seen since 1928 on the cusp of the Great Depression, states across this land from Florida and New Jersey to Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Arizona, have become the laboratories of tyranny.

The tyranny of the Supreme Court is exemplified by its most right wing and brazenly unethical member, Justice Clarence Thomas. His standard of misconduct and conflicts of interest would be grounds for immediate removal in any lower court in the land. Yet Clarence Thomas has immunized himself from the people's reach through self-serving decisions protected by the Court's impervious fortress against the storms of democratic self-rule and constitutional checks.

Thomas Jefferson, speaking in another context and another time, anticipated the Court's and Thomas's malfeasance with amazing clarity:

"You seem ... to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps.... Their power [is] the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves."

Jefferson also had a thing or two to say about revolution. When all else fails. (Look it up.) We're not there yet, but if the safety valve that is our electoral process is irretrievably corrupted WE, THE PEOPLE, may be compelled to adopt a Jeffersonian solution.

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