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Thomas Magstadt
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Monday 11 November 2013
Shame. Shame. Shame.

SCOTUS: America’s Supremely Corrupt Supreme Court

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Here are five questions I'd like to ask the Supreme Court of the United States:

1.   How can you expect us to take the law seriously when you so clearly don't?                         

This is not a frivolous question.  You claim to base your rulings on the Constitution, the highest law of the land.  Everybody knows you were chosen for your political views, not your prowess as jurists or legal scholars.  But once there, you have lifetime tenure.  The pressure is off.  So why don't you shed your prejudices and try a bit harder to approximate impartial justice?

The senior member of the Court, Antonin Scalia, is a caricature of a judge, a disgrace to the legal profession, and a menace to society.  And yet four of you consistently vote with him on crucial questions that determine our fate!  That's positively absurd.  You should be ashamed of yourselves.   

2.  Why do you pretend to be impartial when you so obviously let your own political predilections and prejudices get in the way of the truth at every turn?

For example, everybody knows that corporations are not people.  Four of you are honest about it.  Why do five of you insist on making fools of yourselves and pretending otherwise?

3.  If corporations are people by your twisted definition, why aren't people corporations with the same Constitutional rights, legal protections, bailouts, and tax breaks corporations get?  

Following the 2008 financial meltdown – a crisis and job-destroying recession engineered by high-flying investment bankers, hedge fund managers, and venture capitalists – the banks got bailed out while many homeowners were faced with foreclosure.  TARP shelled out $700 billion of the taxpayers' money.  But that was just a drop in the bucket, according to an investigative team at Bloomberg News:  "…at one point last year the U.S. had lent, spent or guaranteed as much as $12.8 trillion to rescue the economy."

Also, corporations get all kinds of tax breaks not available to real people.  Some of the biggest corporations in America pay no income tax at all.  Others pay at a rate middle class tax payers can only envy.  If corporations are people, why do ordinary people pay more – a lot more – on "earned income" than corporate plutocrats do who pay at the "capital gains" rate of 15 percent or less.  Who was surprised when Mitt ("Corporations are people, my friend") Romney finally admitted that he paid considerably less than 15 percent?

Meanwhile, corporate income tax which produced as much one-third of total federal revenue in the 1950s now accounts for a mere 10 percent.  During this same time-span, however, corporate assets grew 15 times in 2007 constant dollars, nearly twice as fast as household median income.  But personal income taxes paid by the middle class now account for over 45 percent of total federal revenue, with the remainder coming out of payroll taxes.   So, to repeat, why don't you  rule that making some people (wage-earners) pay more than other "people" (corporations) is unconstitutional?

4.  If you really think corporations are people, why not dogs?

Corporations are worse than most real people.  Dogs are better.   Ask anyone who's ever had a dog.   Dogs are loyal and trustworthy.  They have a heart.  They're nothing like banks and corporations.  Given a choice between dogs and corporations, most people would choose dogs any old day.

Don't believe me?  Commission a survey.  Go ahead, Supreme Court, I dare you!  Ask this simple question:  In your view, are dogs or corporations more like people?  I think we both know that dogs would win hands down.   

Most people who are not corporations wouldn't give a fig to save JPMorgan or Goldman Sachs of ExxonMobile, but they'd jump into a raging river to save a drowning dog.  That's because most people know a dog would try to save them, too.  I can't say the same for cats, but if you do decide that dogs deserve the same rights as corporations, consider including cats, too.  A lot of cat-lovers will be barking mad if you don't.   

5.  Have you no shame?

Note:  this question is not directed at Scalia, who is both shameless and clueless, or the four Justices who don't vote with him.  How about you, Chief Justice Roberts?  And to think that you, Clarence Thomas, have Thurgood Marshall's old job!  That leaves Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy.  Justice Alito, you claim to see no difference between protecting the right of free speech in the media and giving corporations unlimited right to bribe politicians.  So we know you have no shame. 

That leaves only one:  Anthony Kennedy.  In Citizens United you wrote a mendacious  opinion for the  majority that will live in infamy long beyond your years on the high court.  Here's what you asserted:  “We now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. And the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy.”  

Shame.  Shame.  Shame.

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ABOUT Thomas Magstadt

Tom Magstadt earned his Ph.D. at The Johns Hopkins University School of International Studies. He is the author of "An Empire If You Can Keep It: Power and Principle in American Foreign Policy," "Understanding Politics: Ideas, Institutions and Issues," and "Nations and Governments: Comparative Politics in Regional Perspective." He was a regular contributor to the Prague Post in 1998-99 and has published widely in newspapers, magazines and journals in the United States. He was a Fulbright Scholar in the Czech Republic in the mid-1990s and a visiting professor at the Air War College in 1990-92. He has taught at several universities, chaired two political science departments, and also did a stint as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. He is a member of the board of the International Relations Council of Kansas City. Now working mainly as a free-lance writer, he lives in Westwood Hills, Kansas.

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