May 16, 2011

This commentary by's Deborah Mathis puts into perspective why the 2012 election is even more important than a lot of us realize.  The next President may very well appoint at least one or two new members to the Supreme Court.  It is important that we pay attention to this because these people are on the bench for life.
Something bad is going on within the U.S. government, and most people don't seem to be paying any attention.

It's not all their fault, given that news agencies tend to focus on the executive and legislative branches. That's where all of the hot rhetoric is, after all. It's where pop politics occur, with all of the talking points, posing and prosletyzing, chest thumping and dares. Plus, we get to weigh in on these folks every two, four or six years, so we feel more vested. All the talk is about the shenanigans that go on at Capitol Hill and the White House and the folks who want to get there. According to the chatter, the future of the country is at stake.

But, it is in that unelected branch – the judiciary and particularly the U.S. Supreme Court – that America is facing its real undoing. Case by case, the conservative-dominated court is knocking down individual rights in favor of corporate privilege.  

You may have heard of the infamous Citizens United ruling that, essentially, endowed private businesses and organizations with free speech rights that will allow them to control election and issues messages, thereby stacking the deck. 

But, there have been other recent decisions that will deny average people a fundamental constitutional right – the right to a day in court. By permitting big business to ban class actions or skip state courts by claiming they are only governed by federal law or force customers into company-controlled arbitration instead of court, the Supreme Court has fixed it so that only the wealthy or the reckless can get any relief in court when a company cheats them or tricks them or otherwise mistreats them. 

The average person can't afford to take on a major credit card company that charged him or her illegal fees or interest rates; that person needs to be part of a group – a class – in order to make the remedy justify the cost of a lawsuit. A class action ban - which is probably somewhere in the fine print of most, if not every, service and product agreement you've signed in the last several years - means you have to go it alone.

Two weeks ago, the Supremes ruled in favor of the company in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, endangering federal class actions. 

As usual, this is the worst news for the "least of these." If the Supreme Court keeps this up, people without resources, political power and a voice will find themselves out of luck when it comes to getting justice. This is a shame, given that the Supreme Court has often been the place that forced the country to do the right thing when the political machinery failed. No more.

For the last several years, conservative appointees, who dominate the court, have run roughshod over fair play and human decency, offering a helping hand to the instatiably powerful and the back of the hand to people who just want their constitutional entitlements.

While most of us are going on about who is bluffing and who is stalling at the U.S. Capitol and whether President Obama is tough enough, the black robes in that great hallowed chamber are quietly, but methodically, deepening the gulf between the haves and have-nots.

The revolution is on the down low. And it is not being televised.

1 comment:

  1. "yes we can!" F this country up. Congratulations for picking a President because of his looks instead of his politics...