The Supreme Court Impacts our Future

America is pretty much a corporate state (a whimsical view): take your pick — a plutocracy, an oligarchy, or a corporatocracy.  By just stating this, our job is not ended. In fact, we have stood by so long and let it happen, almost to the extent that its entrenchment is so complete that a social democracy is perhaps, not recoverable.

This culture has seeped into our pores like an infection you have difficulty getting rid of. All institutions have been drawn into the cultural mix but one element, a branch of government we forget, drastically affects our lives — the judicial branch.

In fact, the Supreme Court of the United States, five of the nine, anyway, couldn’t, in effect, be any more the lackeys of corporate America if they were on the corporate payroll. Because they are appointed, not elected, because they are advertised as impartial, because they are characterized as protectors of our Constitution, we forget they are, in this case, men appointed by crass politicians and approved by other crass politicians. If those corporate drones who appointed them have a corporate agenda, as conservatives do, they choose those who will rubber-stamp their agenda.

Thus we have a conservative majority in the Supreme Court which has advanced the cause of a business state and left consumers/workers/voters/citizens pretty much duped and powerless. The whole thing started when the Supreme Court gave the White House to the Republicans in 2000 when Republican George W. Bush was appointed president over Al Gore.

The table below gives a few of the important decisions that elevated corporate and conservative interests since 2000, above those of the people. They have weakened unions, made suits filed against the rich more difficult, helped to disenfranchise voters, especially minorities, made elections a debacle of huge corporate expenditures, erased individual rights, made guns more readily available, fostered segregated and privatized schools, and elevated religion above common needs.

unnamedThe ten year anniversary of the Chief Justice John Roberts Supreme Court should be marked with alarm, recognizing that presidents choose justices and that their choice brings consequences.  We must further recognize that there is a vast difference in presidential candidates, beyond his or her likeability or how much money the candidate spends in the campaign, how much dirt he or she hurls at the other, or how enticed we are by the fanciful political coverage dispensed by for-profit news. Add to that toxic equation the millions of voters who choose not to vote.

Contention, snide comments and innuendo rule the day in media-covered political discussions. Such is characterized by the Steve Kroft interview of President Obama on Sixty Minutes last night. The video snippet to advertise the interview, meant to draw in the audience, depicted Kroft as even more argumentative and disrespectful of Mr. Obama, than the actual interview. The snippet was reminiscent of Bill O’Reilly’s rude handling of President Obama in an earlier interview several years ago on Fox News.

The current stage of the presidential election is also troubling with the media attention drawn to the insult-a-minute approach of Donald Trump and the uneven, more exhibition-centered treatment of candidates by the media. Even CNN pundits take the Fox News approach in characterizing Hillary Clinton’s policies as pandering. For example, the most recent regards her hard stand on gun control. Other candidates, especially Republicans in the second debate, are fact-checked by sources like The Washington Post but not usually by CNN.

Overall, the corporate media seems to be setting election standards that reward spectacle and ignore candidates who discuss issues. Second debate assessments of GOP candidates seem to avoid misinformation, negative attacks, and absence of issues, and give kudos to talking time and put-downs. Voters must be aware of this culture, discard emotion and entertainment value, and vote for a viable future.

The damage already done by conservatives on the Supreme Court can be reversed if voters come to realize the stakes of the next election. We can’t treat presidential elections like a popular reality show in which clever rebuttals, rebukes, and one-up insults rule, candidates hoping for spectator thumbs up for their own efforts, much like gladiators. And we can’t divorce ourselves from the proceedings, rejecting a voice in our country’s future.

The next president is likely to choose perhaps one or two Supreme Court justices. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 82 and has had health issues. Antonin Scalia is 79, seemingly often on the cusp of angry and opinionated. Kennedy is also 79, outwardly in good health. In addition, Stephen Breyer is 77, recently interviewed and looking healthy as well.

Still in a court often divided 5 to 4 on the conservative side, one or two replacements could have dramatic consequences for our futures.

James Hoover is a recently retired systems engineer. He has advanced degrees in Economics and English. Prior to his aerospace career, he taught high school, and he has also taught college courses. He recently published a science fiction novel called Extraordinary Visitors and writes political columns on several websites. Read other articles by James.