Twin Cities Pioneer Press – Taking exception: The most important issue this election? Supreme Court seats
- by Alan Miller -
Kathleen Parker’s column and skewed presentation (“The public trial of Justice Roberts,” May 24) would seem to pit the chief justice of the Supreme Court against all the forces of the Obama administration, but actually reinforces the contention of many voters about the importance of this year’s election.
Yes, the economy and jobs are vital, as are the other genuine issues that face the nation, in a time when social issues predominate what should be our priorities. But there is nothing more important in this election than the possibility that the next president will have the opportunity to name one, perhaps two, justices to the court.
Parker opines about pressure on John Roberts as part of a “not-so-stealth campaign to influence the Supreme Court” regarding the pending case reviewing the Affordable Care Act, and she describes it as “obnoxious.” She states that “criticizing the Supreme Court is a consistent refrain from Obama,” who has mentioned his disagreement with court decisions on only several of the almost 1,000 days he’s been in office. Consistent? Not hardly. Protected speech under the First Amendment? It was, the last time I looked.
The fact of the matter is that the Supreme Court, in a series of 5-4 decisions, has been the most “activist” court since the Warren era, notwithstanding that Roberts, and his acolyte Samuel Alito, denied any such intent in their Senate confirmation hearings and spoke of their reverence for precedent and established decisions.
Really? This is a court skillfully manipulated by Roberts into the shocking decision in “Citizens United v. F.E.C.” that turned campaign finance laws on their head and opened the floodgates for corporations to manipulate the outcome of elections by mega-millions of monetary donations to protect their bottom lines, an incredible act of judicial activism. Addressing an issue that was not even initially before the court, Roberts managed to get the case passed for re-argument until the next term, at a time when Justice David Souter was retiring, and even though Roberts had a 5-4 majority, with Souter no longer on the court, his scathing proposed dissent would have to be written by another member of the minority, and was. And thus Citizens United opened the cash register for corporations to have unfettered access to the manipulation of elections by pouring their corporate dollars into the coffers of favored candidates.
It cannot be forgotten it was the Supreme Court, in Bush v. Gore, that awarded the presidency to a man who had lost the popular vote by more than 500,000, and stopped the Florida recount as it started tilting toward Gore. Would the country be mired in debt, with a struggling economy and two trillion-dollar wars if Gore had been president? Unlikely. Moreover, the court’s decisions since Roberts’ appointment as chief have whittled away, 5-4, safeguards of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights with regular consistency.
Antonin Scalia, at 75, is cranky, intolerant, sarcastic and belittling even to his peers, and has sat on the high court for 25 years; Anthony Kennedy at 74 for 23 years; and several of the other justices have had bouts of ill health or are in their 70s. History would indicate that there will be retirements or even deaths on the court during the next four years. The future of the nation and the direction it takes in a chaotic world are more likely to be determined by the composition of the Supreme Court than the infighting of the next president and Congress. And these judges are appointed for life, without review. Ms. Parker fashions a tale about pressures on the chief judge, but what she really seeks is a continuum of an activist, right-wing court. That’s why there is no question about the most important issue facing voters in November.
It’s the Supreme Court, stupid.
Via Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Taking exception: The most important issue this election? Supreme Court seats