Equal Justice Under the Law?
That’s the inscription on the front of the Supreme Court building. No, seriously. The part right beneath it where it says “But Some Are More Equal Than Others” may as well be chiseled in now, under a no-bid contract by Halliburton. The court, whose rampantly corporatist wing wouldn’t even exist without its heretofore most ridiculous decision, Bush v. Gore, went ahead and cemented the fascist gains of that revolting and audacious overreach yesterday, providing the money shot for the typically graphic right-wing porno movie we’ve been forced to watch ever since. Now, certain fictitious “people,” who are just the same as you and me except for the fact that they never die, can never be imprisoned, rake in billions every quarter, and can loot the federal treasury at will, have finally been rescued from their oppressed position in society, unlike, say, lesbian Moms who would like to marry. Anatole France, who spoke of the “equal” rights of the poor and rich to sleep outside and beg for bread, must be fairly astonished. The rich he was talking about could at least, in a pinch, be beheaded. Not so JPMorgan Chase and Exxon.
I remember my annoyance, but certainly not surprise, at the coverage of the Roberts and Alito confirmations, when the media reliably threw up a smokescreen over the proceedings by dwelling on debates about abortion and the Nuclear Option, with their always feigned credulity about what Bush was really up to. All of them, of course, are but the gaudy creations of undeserved constitutional favoritism and the absurd extensions thereof enacted by the right-wing politicians they so cravenly fawned over, and one could hardly expect them to think, when they are so handsomely paid not to. But Roberts’ record as a corporate lawyer was rife with arguments in favor of corporate personhood, and revealingly bereft of any of the irrelevant and non-remunerative culture war garbage that the Republicans have pointed at for years as they systematically looted the treasury and silenced normal Americans. Everyone knew that controversial and scary 5-4 decisions would fall like rain as soon as these Opus Dei lunatics were sworn in, but the media carefully avoided telling anybody what kind they would be.
Well, now we know. Kiss my ass, Operation Rescue, it’s drill, baby drill. It’s astonishing, really, but not when you know any of them, that the cultural right ever fell for such a flagrant bait and switch. They’ve been deceived and duped for so long that they’ve come to like it, and the corporatist wing of their chosen party has cleverly given lip service to their kooky hobby horses to advance an entirely unrelated agenda they are, happily, too dumb to contemplate. Losing and endless wars are sold as religious crusades, spring training for the muscular Jesus, while the profiteers laugh all the way to the bank. Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter may never be able to get married, but with the kind of trust fund Papa racked up during the Bush years, who cares? Probably the most intelligence-insulting part of this abominable decision was the part that equated unions and corporations, as though a party that had spent 100 years hating and attempting, quite successfully, to eliminate unions, considered the vestigial remains of those once-threatening populist organizations any sort of equal to multibillionaire, multinationalist, and world-dominating corporations.
Suppressing laughter, the Court pretended to worry that corporations like Nike were vanishing into obscurity because their pitiful, rights-deprived “voices” were being shouted down. Citibank, the poor thing, didn’t stand a chance against the unseemly advantages of welfare mothers (what welfare?) and foreclosed homeowners. Exxon lay prostrate before the arrogant dictates of “eco-terrorists,” and the helpless cries of United Health were drowned out amid the maelstrom of desperate diabetics’ howlings in emergency rooms. Finally warming to its historic role of defending the powerless against the inevitable depredations of the powerful, the new Supreme Court stepped boldly into the breach yesterday. Grandma’s $25 donation would no longer be allowed to shout down Goldman Sach’s billions. ”I have a dream,” Clarence Thomas no doubt thought, as he added in his stupefying concurring opinion that even the scanty disclosure requirements the decision left intact might subject religious bigots to, well, bigotry.
Justice Stevens, whose full-throated and uncharacteristically vocal dissent is probably the last gasp of Democracy as envisioned by the Founders in a debate that was decided for us long ago, and, barring some actuarially unlikely development, won’t be writing for the Court much longer , had this to say in his conclusion:
At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.
Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah, you old hippie, was Justice Kennedy’s reply yesterday morning, albeit worded somewhat differently, of course.
Back in the days of Bush and the now-defunct Air America Radio, now-Senator Al Franken had a song he played, to the tune of “Hang on Sloopy,” called “Hang on Stevens,” which implored the aging Justice not to tip over before Bush was gone. Stevens did his part, by the skin of his octogenarian teeth, and did again today, valiantly. Sadly, it’s too late.
Karl Rove’s “math” turned out to be right on the, uh, money.