This Is How Obstructionism For Obstructionism's Sake (And For Cash) Works To Undermine The Country
Like we said last week, most Americans-- and obviously that doesn't include the kind of people who get their opinions from Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter or others who exploit hatred and bigotry to make their livings-- feel confident that Obama will make a good choice in his first Supreme Court nominee. That hasn't stopped the obstructionist coalition in the Senate from sitting down and plotting a strategy to denigrate and smear whoever he nominates. Although most Senate Republicans have signed on, it's ironic that the leader, a poorly educated Ku Klux Klan sympathizer from Alabama, Jeff Sessions, was chosen to lead their efforts on the Judiciary Committee. It's ironic because the same Judiciary Committee once considered Sessions' own nomination for a judgeship and found him wanting and too bigoted.
According to Charlie Savage in yesterday's NY Times the Republicans and their extreme right-wing allies are stockpiling ammunition to use against any of the frequently-mentioned prospects Obama is thought to be considering.
If President Obama nominates Judge Diane P. Wood to the Supreme Court, conservatives plan to attack her as an “outspoken” supporter of “abortion, including partial-birth abortion.”
If he nominates Judge Sonia Sotomayor, they plan to accuse her of being “willing to expand constitutional rights beyond the text of the Constitution.”
And if he nominates Kathleen M. Sullivan, a law professor at Stanford, they plan to denounce her as a “prominent supporter of homosexual marriage.”
...While conservatives say they know they have little chance of defeating Mr. Obama’s choice because Democrats control the Senate, they say they hope to mount a fight that could help refill depleted coffers and galvanize a movement demoralized by Republican electoral defeats.
“It’s an immense opportunity to build the conservative movement and identify the troops out there,” said Richard A. Viguerie, a conservative fund-raiser. “It’s a massive teaching moment for America. We’ve got the packages written. We’re waiting right now to put a name in.”
Gary Marx, executive director of the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network, said donors, whom he declined to identify, had committed to contributing millions of dollars for television, radio and Internet advertisements that might reunite conservatives in a confirmation battle.
Although the hard right religious radicals who get most worked up over nomination battles never quite understand the concept of separation of Church and State and are always bothering normal people about their religious conceptions and superstitions, the Republican Party's only real interest in this fight-- besides raking in dough from the suckers-- is to force Obama to pick a pro-corporatist judge. In the end that is the only qualification Republicans care about. Their brief against Sonia Sotomayor, for example, "cites a ruling in which she said a man could sue a private corporation for violating his constitutional rights while acting as a government contractor." That's an area where Republicans will never allow anyone to tread.
In 1886 an activist right wing judge made a wrongheaded pronouncement that has been a disaster for American working families ever since and that is the entire basis for Republican Party judicial "thought." The case, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company appears to-- or has been interpreted to-- declare that a corporation is, legally, a person and hence protected by the 14th Amendment which guarantees the equal protection of the law. This misinterpretation of the law-- literally put forward by a court reporter!-- has changed the course of history by guaranteeing that rise of corporate rule and a drastic imbalance between powerful private corporations and society (ordinary citizens).
What most people don't know is that after the above-mentioned 1886 decision, artificial persons were held to have exactly the same legal rights as we natural folk. (Not to mention the clear advantages corporations enjoy: they can be in several places at once, for instance, and at least in theory they're immortal.) Up until the New Deal, many laws regulating corporations were struck down under the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment--in fact, that clause was invoked far more often on behalf of corporations than former slaves. Although the doctrine of personhood has been weakened since, even now lawyers argue that an attempt to sue a corporation for lying is an unconstitutional infringement on its First Amendment right to free speech. (This year, for example, we saw Nike v. Kasky.)
You're thinking: By what tortured reasoning did the Supreme Court decide that corporations were protected by the 14th Amendment, which everyone knows was enacted to protect the rights of real people? Answer: Apparently it didn't decide. As revealed by our friend bex-- and detailed by Thom Hartmann in Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights (2002)-- the whole thing began as a courtroom comment by a judge, which was elevated to the status of legal precedent by an overreaching court reporter... Hartmann's book has caused a stir in legal circles, and some hope the Supreme Court will take another look at corporate personhood. A few naifs think a reversal will spell the end of global corporate tyranny. Ain't gonna happen-- fact is, the courts have been chipping away at corporate personhood for years, and you don't exactly see our capitalist overlords suffering from it. But it'd be nice to have a clear-cut ruling, say, that limiting campaign contributions by big businesses doesn't mean you're restricting their First Amendment rights.
Most Republican senators don't really care that much what judges think about abortion, gays, guns or flags. They live and die for this concept of corporate personhood. All of Bush's nominees, where ever else they stood on what ever issue, they were solid on protecting the legal dominance of corporations. That will be the real backdrop of the drama over whomever Obama nominates, although it will take replacing judges like Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito and Kennedy-- none of whom will likely be leaving the court, other than by the grace of God, while Obama is President-- to substantially change anything at all to do with the Supreme Court.