The Supreme Court is Threatening America and the Planet

Halsey, Oregon plant. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

The word “supreme” fits kings and tyrants. It is definitely monarchical and, therefore, undemocratic. A supreme commander does what he wants. No one can interfere, much less have oversight of his actions. The same thing is true with a court with the title supreme court. It issues decisions / edicts that only Congress can overturn.

The other inappropriate custom with this high court is giving its judges names / titles they don’t deserve. Justices, for example.

Judges are usually trained in law. They are not Justices. Justice is an ideal of virtue rarely apparent in human beings. To be just is beautiful and perfect, but extremely difficult. So calling judges Justices gives them the illusion they are much better than they are. It elevates them to heights they don’t deserve.

Besides, judges of the high court are chosen by the president. This means they mirror the politics and corruption of the president. They are appointed for life, which tempts them to become tyrants for life. This serves neither the high calling of Justice nor democracy. Give absolute and unchecked authority to humans is a tested recipe for tyranny.

The United States is a collection of states that, certainly, need central authority. Thus when state legal conflict reaches the federal government, the central government should be able to resolve the conflict. This practical reason probably explains the founding of the high court in Washington, DC.

I am not in a position to know if the so-called Supreme Court has been serving the public interest. My observations of its recent (June 2022) edicts, however, mark a definite decline in the legitimacy of this court.

The court did away with women’s rights to have abortion; it legalized the public display of guns carried by individuals; and restricted the regulatory authority of the EPA to control climate offending emissions from electricity factories.

These decisions make me feel comfortable saying this court must be fundamentally reformed or abolished. Its weaponized rulings are threatening democracy and the very survival of America and the planet.

Why against abortion?

It’s not easy to guess why the six judges appointed by Republican presidents want to take away women’s right to control their own bodies. The judges probably reflect the superstition of several religions claiming that life starts the moment a man and woman make love and the woman gets pregnant.

No abortion, of course,  equals to more babies at a time of two major developments. First, chemicals in the environment castrate lots of men; furthermore, these toxins in the environment (natural world, water, and food) have adverse effects on women as well. Second, the population of non-white minorities in America is increasing.

Republicans and high court judges don’t like minorities. However, taking abortion away from women promises the population of non-white minorities will increase even more.

Thus the edict against abortion is basically a dark move trying to keep secret the deleterious effects of chemicals on human reproduction. This is mixed up with religious nonsense about the origins of life.

Arming America

There must be personal and cultural reasons why some people never touch guns and others arm themselves and consider it their fundamental right to bear arms.

Connecting the rhetoric of possessing arms to the time of revolutionary war against England is meaningless.

Arms for civilians come from the arms industry that produces the vast quantities of lethal weapons for the Pentagon. So the arms industry is a giant at the core of the economy and the military industrial complex.

However, armed Americans keep committing atrocities for decades, especially slaughtering children.  And despite the moral revulsion for such behavior, the gun lobby wants all Americans armed.

The high court agrees with this dismal militarism. This probably mirrors the tremendous inequality in America, the land of the small number of billionaires and the land of the many who barely make it.

So the court is telling the gun owners to show off their lethal power. But this official blessing of a fear-politics is bound to blowback. A return to the slaughter of the Indians is not that far away. The Indians this time are likely to be poor whites and  minorities.

Speeding up the end of the world by unethical judges?

The high court edict with the most potential deleterious impact is restricting EPA’s miserable but minimum control of the fossil fuel industry.

The excuse for this irresponsible ruling is willful misunderstanding of the Clean Air Act of 1970. The Republican-appointed judges said that Congress did not give EPA the power to regulate the carbon emissions of electricity producing companies.

On the contrary, the Clean Air Act directs EPA to regulate “pollutants endangering public health.” Some of the pollutants include soot, smog, mercury and countless other toxic chemicals in the air humans breathe. In 2009, the EPA documented that carbon dioxide threatens human health and the environment. Carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping greenhouse gas resulting from gasoline-powered cars and trucks as well as natural gas and coal-powered electricity power plants.

So the June 2022 edict of the Republican judges is pure politics, continuing Trump’s thoroughly illegitimate denial of climate change in order to boost the profits of the fossil fuel billionaires and their feudal servants in Congress and state governments.

In addition, the court has no authority to deal with technical issues about which its judges don’t have the scientific knowledge or experience. Are these judges telling Americans their lives are worthless compared to the profits companies make selling dangerous products? Personally, these judges may be like former President Donald Trump who appointer three of them. They, like Trump, probably consider climate change a hoax. But they have no right to translate their individual ignorance or malice into decisions affecting Americans and the planet.

The judges probably understand they are committing a moral and political crime. They are aware of the wrath building against them and around the beautiful Greek building they occupy. The result is ugly. The gorgeous courthouse has become a hostile castle. It is “surrounded by an eight-foot fence. Always cloistered and remote, the court is now impenetrable.”

Abolish or reform the Supreme Court?

Abolishing the high court is unlikely at this time. The Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been waging war against each other. Besides, the Republicans like the Supreme Court doing their dirty work.

Reforming the high court may be easier. Yet finding good people not in the pockets of polluters for a new high court would be difficult if not impossible. But the damage can be reduced. Instead of presidents picking them, let the American people elect them outside of party affiliation. They could serve the court no more than ten years.

The qualification for this high court would be citizenship, broad education in the humanities and science, and long record of honest public service.

Evaggelos Vallianatos, Ph.D., studied history and biology at the University of Illinois; earned his Ph.D. in Greek and European history at the University of Wisconsin; did postdoctoral studies in the history of science at Harvard. He worked on Capitol Hill and the US EPA; taught at several universities and authored several books, including The Antikythera Mechanism: The Story Behind the Genius of the Greek Computer and its Demise.