Sunday, May 20, 2012

How the 1% hijacked the U.S. courts

Alternet has a terrific story about how the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers and their pals have taken over the courts -- for their own benefit, of course, and to the detriment of the 99 percent.

The main point:
A 30-year campaign to push America's courts sharply to the right has borne abundant fruit for those in the top 1 percent.
We see it reflected in today's Supreme Court, which, having unleashed a flood of super-PAC cash into our political campaigns in a decision that was one of the most brazen examples of judicial activism in the court's history, now stands poised to overturn not only the Democrats' healthcare bill, but much of the jurisprudence that supported the welfare state developed since the New Deal.
A study by the Constitutional Accountability Center found that the Chamber of Commerce had won 65 percent of its cases heard by the court under Chief Justice John Roberts, compared to 56 percent under former Chief Justice William Rehnquist (1986-2005) and just 43 percent of the cases that came during the Burger court (1969-1986).
But that's only the beginning. "The Roberts Court," wrote Slate's Dahlia Lithwick, is "slowly but surely... giving corporate America a handbook on how to engage in misconduct. In case after case, it seems big companies are being given the playbook on how to win even bigger the next time."....
In a recent opinion, two federal appeals court judges suggested that all efforts to protect workers, consumers or the environment were unconstitutional, including regulatory efforts by the states. It's a radical view, but one that has gotten increasing traction in conservative legal circles. It is also the culmination of years of institutional investments by the corporate Right to advance what's come to be known as the "law and economics" movement, which analyzes legal rulings "costs" - essentially applying neoliberal economic logic to the field. Its advocates eschew the notion that human rights or economic fairness are inherently valuable factors for the law to consider.
Alternet notes that anti-worker extremists like to accuse so-called "liberal" judges of "judicial activism." But it's the so-called "conservative" judges who are more likely to interfere with Congress. One Yale University study showed:
...among Supreme Court justices at that time, those most frequently labeled "conservative" were among the most frequent practitioners of at least one brand of judicial activism - the tendency to strike down statutes passed by Congress. Those most frequently labeled "liberal" were the least likely to strike down statutes passed by Congress.
Another study found:
...the Supreme Court's "conservative" justices were the most likely to engage in "judicial activism" while the "liberal" justices were most likely to exercise "judicial restraint." 
How did this all come about? Short answer: Loony billionaires for spent millions of dollars to influence judges as they've risen through the system. The Koch brothers, for example, have brainwashed a generation of judges through neutral-sounding think tanks, academic centers and "scholarships." Read, for example, how they've manipulated Wisconsin's judiciary here.

The loony billionaires also create front groups that bribe judges with all-expenses paid vacations that they call "conferences." Read about them here.

This is how successful they've been. Loony billionaire John M. Olin decided he'd been so successful in brainwashing the judiciary to his anti-worker, anti-middle class, anti-government views that he closed up shop. And that was seven years ago!

Be very afraid, people.