October 11, 2010

The Conservative Assault on the Constitution

A brilliant op-ed article in the LA Times outlines how the conservative voices on the Supreme Court – all of whom are likely to stay as long as they can in order to make sure they’re never replaced with anyone less vitrolic than they are – are, when acting in the interest of conservatives in the United States are actually shredding the Constitution that they supposedly worship so deeply.

It’s amazing how quick conservatives are to bemoan President Obama and progressive politicians and activists for “trampling” on the constitution, holding up the banner of being its so-called defenders, but nothing could be further from the truth. They may be interested in defending some ideological perception of what America looked like and who benefitted from whom’s strife during the time of the framing of those ideals, but they — as we’ve seen a number of times — contradict themselves freely in order to maintain their own interests, and in the end are willing to eliminate the rights and freedoms that the Constitution mandates in order to ensure their own privilege and grip on political, economic, and social power.

Nowhere is this more evident than on today’s Supreme Court, where a term as ugly as “judicial activism,” a phrase I hate to no end, can actually be appropriately applied to some of the Court’s more recent widely Conservative and completely unconstitutional judgements.

During the first years of the Roberts court, it has consistently ruled in favor of corporate power, such as in holding that corporations have the 1st Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts in independent political campaigns. For the first time in American history, the high court has struck down laws regulating firearms as violations of the 2nd Amendment and held that the Constitution protects a right of individuals to possess guns. It has dramatically cut back on the rights of criminal defendants, especially as to the exclusion of evidence gained through illegal searches and seizures under the 4th Amendment and the protections of the 5th Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination. It has greatly limited the ability of the government to formulate remedies for the segregation of public schools. It has significantly expanded the power of the government to regulate abortions.

As always, the composition of the court is a product of historical accident and presidential elections. From 1968 to 2009, there were only two Democratic appointees to the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, in part because President Carter is one of the few presidents who did not get to fill a vacancy. Republican Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and both Bushes had a total of 12 vacancies to fill, and their picks included four staunch conservatives who are now on the court: Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

On the issues that today define the ideological continuum, these four justices are as conservative as any in American history. Their views are best understood far more by reading the 2008 Republican Party platform than by studying the views of the Constitution’s framers.

How apalling is that? You can go back to the documents and writings and papers of the founding fathers of the American state, and find less in common with these justices – who claim to be strict and staunch interpreters of the Constitution as a document that is not up for interpretation and must be judged exactly as written – and find less in common with them as you’ll find in common with hooligans like Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin. Why? Because it serves their interested – both the Justices who seek to steer the course of American social and political discourse, and their favored interests and friends off the bench as well. It’s terrifying, and unfortunately it’s likely to continue as long as the American people lack the patience and courage to elect and maintain progressives in the Legislative branch who can sponsor, author, and push legislation that will withstand challenge by that court.

[ Supreme Court’s Conservative Majority is Making its Mark ]
Source: The LA Times

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