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The Court Erects a Barrier Against Civil Liberties

Politicization of Justice

by NORMAN POLLACK

Tuesday, Feb. 26, the Supreme Court, Allito’s majority opinion, took a significant step in linking counterterrorism to the ugly strain of anticommunism, McCarthyism, redbaiting, going back to the 18th century Alien and Sedition laws, and defining much of the ideological landscape beginning with the suppression of the IWW, the Palmer Raids, Japanese internment in concentration camps, etc etc.

No, I do not exaggerate.  The Court has become a rubber stamp for Obama’s campaign of traducing the US Constitution, creating a climate supportive of heinous acts such as targeted assassination and Executive power-grabbing, as in the National Security State, use of the Espionage Act, and remodeling the CIA into a paramilitary force closely aligned with JSOC—across-the-board the clear violation of international law, all under the umbrella of glistening liberalism.

What is worse, targeted assassination or indefinite detention—there is no answer, both being the curse of totalitarianism while the people avert their gaze, too self-indulgent, selfish, wallowing in a condition of false consciousness, even to care.  But this decision will go forth without a murmur, which is to wrap counterterrorism in the flag of legitimacy, and thus encourage more of the same: further deprivation of civil liberties, more drone attacks directed to terrorizing whole regions, providing the juices for keeping up US efforts at unilateral global political-economic dominance, and internally, intensified disparities between rich and poor.  Poor Allito—a not very bright jurist whose credentials for the job are set down in his record: dependable reactionary, supporter of repression, a hackneyed individualism that sanctions the destruction of the welfare dimension of democratic argument.  I say “poor” because obviously he is not alone, whether on the Court or in public life, and therefore should not be singled out for comment.  Obama with his contempt for social justice and legal principles is his fitting companion.

When all three branches are arrayed against humane standards and practices of government, America is in deep s—.  My NYT Comment follows.  Hopefully, there will be a groundswell of repudiation of a public policy, having the imprimatur of the Constitution behind it, indeed, a force egging it on, which allows the government to kill, incarcerate, spy on, whomever it declares an enemy, with complete impunity and with immunity from prosecution.

[My NYT Comment, Feb. 26. The abyss of illegality]:

Let me be blunt. Obama supporters take note: he and DOJ were pleased at the Court decision preventing the test of government’s extraordinary degradation of civil liberties. Allito’s fiction that complainants do not have standing before the Court, applying, beyond wiretapping, to surveillance in general, rendition, and indefinite detention, turns counterterrorism into the New McCarthyism. We see here the politicization of the law.

Not surprising, however, given Obama’s obsession with secrecy (the two go together) which envelops all of government. Why this vicious disregard of due process, habeas corpus, rule of law? Except that he, and Brennan, with the prostitution of justice by the Court, after decades of commitment to civil liberties, are fearful, correctly, of revealment of war crimes, particularly the program of armed drones for targeted assassination. Obama keeps digging a deeper hole into the abyss of illegality, and in practical terms, political murder. A one-way ticket to the International Criminal Court for Obama, Brennan, and Allito, would suit me fine.

Norman Pollack is the author of “The Populist Response to Industrial America” (Harvard) and “The Just Polity” (Illinois), Guggenheim Fellow, and professor of history emeritus, Michigan State University.