FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Corporate Supreme Court

Five Supreme Court Justices–Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito and Kennedy are entrenching, in a whirlwind of judicial dictates, judicial legislating and sheer ideological judgments, a mega-corporate supremacy over the rights and remedies of individuals.

The artificial entity called “the corporation” has no mention in our Constitution whose preamble starts with “We the People,” not “We the Corporation.”

Taken together the decisions are brazenly over-riding sensible precedents, tearing apart the state common law of torts and blocking class actions, shoving aside jury verdicts, limiting people’s “standing to sue”, pre-empting state jurisdictions–anything that serves to centralize power and hand it over to the corporate conquistadores.

Here are some examples. (For more see thecorporatecourt.com). Remember the disastrous Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound twenty two years ago? It destroyed marine life and the livelihoods of many landowners, fishermen and native Alaskans. Its toxic effects continue to this day.

Well, after years of litigation by Alaskan fishermen, the Supreme Court took the case to review a $5 billion award the trial court had assessed in punitive damages. A 5 to 3 decision lowered the sum to $507.5 million which is less than what Exxon made in interest by delaying the case for twenty years. Moreover, the drunken Exxon captain’s oil tanker calamity raised the price of gasoline at the pump for awhile. Exxon actually made a profit despite its discharge of 50 million gallons.

The unelected, life-tenured corporate court was just getting started and every year they tighten the noose of corporatism around the American people.

In Bush v. Gore (5-4 decision), the Court picked the more corporate president of the United States in 2000, leaving constitutional scholars thunderstruck at this breathtaking seizure of the electoral process, stopping the Florida Supreme Court’s ongoing state-wide recount. The five Republican Justices behaved as political hacks conducting a judicial coup d’?tat.

But then what do you expect from justices like Thomas and Scalia who participate in a Koch brothers’ political retreat or engage in extrajudicial activities that shake the public confidence in the highest court of the land.

Last year came the Citizens United v. FEC case where the Republican majority went out of its way to decide a question that the parties to the appeal never asked. In a predatory “frolic and detour,” the 5 justices declared that corporations (including foreign companies) no longer have to obey the prohibitory federal law and their own court’s precedents.

Corporations like Pfizer, Aetna, Chevron, GM, Citigroup, Monsanto can spend unlimited funds (without asking their shareholders) in independent expenditures to oppose or support candidates for public office from a local city council election to federal Congressional and Presidential elections.

Once again our judicial dictatorship has spoken for corporate privilege and power overriding the rights of individual voters.

Eighty percent of the American people, reported a Washington Post poll, reject the Court’s view that a business corporation is entitled to the same free speech rights as citizens.

Chances are very high that in cases between workers and companies, consumers and companies, communities and corporations, tax payers and military contractors–big business wins.

Inanimate corporations created by state government charters have risen as Frankensteins to control the people through one judicial activist decision after another. It was the Supreme Court in 1886 that started treating a corporation as a “person” for purposes of the equal protection right in the fourteenth amendment. Actually the scribe manufactured that conclusion in the headnotes even though the Court’s opinion did not go that far. But then it was off to the races. These inanimate giants, astride the globe, have privileges and immunities that “We the People” can only dream about, yet they have equal constitutional rights with us (except for the right against self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment) and more limited privacy rights.)

What is behind these five corporate Justices’ decisions is a commercial philosophy that big business knows best for you and your children. These Justices intend to drive this political jurisprudence to further extremes, so long as they are in command, to twist our founders clear writings that the Constitution was for the supremacy of human beings.

To see how extreme the five corporate justices are, consider the strong contrary view of one of their conservative heroes, the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist in a case where a plurality of justices threw out a California regulation requiring an insert in utility bills inviting residential ratepayers to band together to advance their interests against Pacific Gas and Electric. The prevailing justices said–get this–that it violated the electric company monopoly’s first amendment right to remain silent and not respond to the insert’s message.

Conservative Justice Rehnquist’s dissent contained these words–so totally rejected by the present-day usurpers: “Extension of the individual freedom of conscience decisions to business corporations strains the rationale of those cases beyond the breaking point. To ascribe to such artificial entities an “intellect” or “mind” for freedom of conscience purposes is to confuse metaphor with reality.”

It was left to another conservative jurist, the late Justice Byron White, dissenting in the corporatist decision First Nat’l Bank v. Bellotti (1978) to recognize the essential principle.

Corporations, Justice White wrote, are “in a position to control vast amounts of economic power which may, if not regulated, dominate not only the economy but also the very heart of our democracy, the electoral process.” The state, he continued, has a compelling interest in “preventing institutions which have been permitted to amass wealth as a result of special advantages extended by the State for certain economic purposes from using that wealth to acquire an unfair advantage in the political process?. The state need not permit its own creation to consume it.” (emphasis added)

Never have I urged impeachment of Supreme Court justices. I do so now, for the sake of ending the Supreme Court’s corporate-judicial dictatorship that is not accountable under our system of checks and balance in any other way.

Ralph Nader is the author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, a novel.

 

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail