Monday, October 12, 2020

The Social Justice Criticism of Amy Coney Barrett Hides All of the Rest of What's Wrong with Her Nomination


Donald Trump's next gift to the nation, strong pro-corporate Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett

by Thomas Neuburger

It's difficult not to be cynical about the Democratic Party these days. Their leaders talk like Donald Trump is the worst threat to America since Hitler, then grant his almost every wish — except the wish he floated recently about giving money to struggling Americans. That wish was withheld so he "wouldn't gain an electoral advantage" by giving money to some without also giving money to others on Nancy Pelosi's wish list — these people, for example — or so I hear.

But their lack of struggle against the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett is concerning. First they appeared to give up — "Faced with a moment with apocalyptic implications, leading Democrats fall somewhere on a spectrum that runs from oblivious to resigned. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) wants to appeal to the GOP’s 'sense of decency' and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) is complaining about procedural maneuvers that could delay the confirmation process," write David Segal and Zephyr Teachout in the NY Daily News.

Then, under pressure from progressives and others, they promised to "do something" — "Let me be clear," announced Chuck Schumer to his caucus, "if Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year" — but they still didn't specify what or when, unless Schumer's "next year" is a promise of surrender this year.

This lack of struggle against Barrett's nomination is a problem for many reasons. One is the effect she will have on the nation's social justice agenda, currently under heavy conservative attack. An Internet search turns up any number of links related to Barrett's likely views on abortion, gay rights, and the Court's recent attempts to craft a "religious freedom" exception to any of the country's laws. (I truly hope, if this exception becomes widely recognized, that progressives take full disruptive advantage of it.)

But as bad as her rulings on justice issues will likely be — and they are likely to be very bad — the most sweeping changes will be those directly affecting the economy and nation's hundreds of millions of working people, almost every single person in the country, in other words.

As a foretaste, consider this recent ruling authored by Barrett from the bench of the 7th U.S. District Court:

The case for dismissal turns on a technicality that could have been decided either way, and it's just the tip of the iceberg in Barrett's rulings. It's also a perfect example of what will soon come from John Roberts' newly reconstituted, very corporate-friendly Court majority. 

Roberts himself is the perfect "business friendly" justice for the Right to have installed on the bench. Barrett will be his perfect complement. A new report looked at Barrett's rulings and found that "Judge Amy Coney Barrett has faced at least fifty-five cases in which citizens took on corporate entities in front of her court and 76% of the time she sided with the corporations. She clearly sided with people in just 11 of these identified cases." (The report lists each case.)

A Common Dreams write-up of the report found these troubling examples:

  • Barrett ruled in favor of a major pharma company over a woman who was forced to get a hysterectomy following a faulty IUD.
  • Barrett voted against rehearing a case one judge said upheld the “Separate But Equal” doctrine on racial segregation.
  • Barrett ruled that protections against age discrimination for employees do not also extend to job applicants.

Barrett will, in short, look for any reason, however razor-thin, to deny workers relief from the predations of corporate America. As David Sirota wrote recently in the Guardian:

Only a month before Barrett was nominated to the high court by Donald Trump, she delivered a ruling that could help corporations avoid paying overtime to gig workers. That ruling followed her other rulings limiting the enforcement of age-discrimination laws, restricting the government’s power to punish companies that mislead consumers and curtailing consumers’ rights against predatory debt collectors.

The UCLA law professor Adam Winkler said that if Barrett is confirmed, the consequences could reverberate for decades. “This would really push the court over the top ... You would have a very strong 6-3 conservative majority. And unlike previous times where conservatives had most of the seats on the court, none of the conservatives on [this] court really swing liberal on business or corporate power issues."

The nation was already near to breaking before the pandemic. Economic pain and its secondary effects — despair, addiction, suicide — haunt the mass of American workers and arguably led to the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

Now, in 2020, their backs and spirit will surely be broken through by the millions of lost jobs, most permanently, and the brave new post-Covid economy, an economy where Jeff Bezos can add $87 billion to his fortune and two-laptop professionals can work at home, while those who deliver food to them ... starve.

As Amy Coney Barrett's GrubHub ruling shows, her elevation to the bench will mean none of our working class "heroes" will get an ounce of economic relief if it has to come from the pocket of a billionaire.

The cries for social justice, important as they are, are drowning out the equally important cries for economic justice and relief. Is it "all hands on deck" time, Ms. Pelosi? Mr. Schumer? It soon will be for those to whom the Democratic Party is selling itself as salvation. I think if the Party wants to avoid growing a massive audience for the next Donald Trump — the better smarter one, a Trump who actually wants to rule, and can — they should heed those cries as well.

As Sirota says, if Democrats don't pursue a "this is a hill to die on" strategy (my phrase), "the court could become a corporate star chamber for the rest of our lives – which is exactly what business interests want."

I pity the fool (to coin a phrase) that has to live in the nation they will create.


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At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

THIS is why the "Democrats" have nothing to say to me.
THIS is why I spit in the face of their lame pleas for "party unity".
THIS is why I won't vote for them despite Trump being so terrible - THEY DENIED ME MY CHOICE.

I have someplace to go. The "Democratic" Party won't be there when I arrive.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Cugel said...

What is the point of screaming and yelling at Republican Senators and making a "stand" about Barrett? Mitch McConnell is going to push this nomination through, come Hell or high-water.

It was inevitable from the moment when RBG died. And the Democratic counter-attack is equally clear -- let the Republicans have this one and put 4 new Justices on the S.Ct. in January.

Let the right-wing howl about "court packing" and just insist that the Republicans have already packed the court by stealing 3 justices by a criminal president who was elected because of interference with our elections by Russian intelligence; maintained in office despite his just impeachment by GOP toadies ignoring the law, and then grabbed another S.Ct. Justice just before the power to do it was stripped from them by the elections.

THAT and not THIS is the hill to die on. And none of the Dem Senators wants to do it because it is "so partisan." Well, there needs to be millions of people in the streets demanding the court packing.

Even if somehow Democrats managed to stop the Barrett nomination (and they can't stop it no matter what they do), that would STILL leave Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on the Court!

What good is just replacing Ginsberg? They would still be outnumbered 5-4. No workers would ever get a fair hearing against a corporation before that court. All attempts to regulate Global Warming would be ruled "Unconstitutional" as would all attempts to create universal health care, etc.

There is simply no point in doing anything other than what Democrats are doing -- making their case against Barrett on a procedural basis. The Republicans are packing the court already.

So, we get to pack it back in January, thus "restoring balance to our nation's top court."

THAT is the fight the Democratic base needs to have -- at a time when Democrats actually have the POWER to do something. There needs to be millions of people protesting and demanding court reform come January. Constant pressure on Democratic senators not to wheezle and huff their "outrage" and then do nothing.

Protesting when you know that you haven't the power to change anything is easy to do, but utterly futile. The GOP knows this power-play is wildly unpopular, but they don't care. The Democrats are handling this exactly right.

For now. Come January they will absolutely fold like cheap suits and betray us, arguing that we need to "wait and see what the Court does before we act."

THAT is when Progressives need to ramp up maximum and sustained pressure on them to use their power to right this wrong.

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:59, democraps don't react to pressure from progressives. They haven't since 1966. They won't ever again. This wrong will never be 'righted', certainly not by them.

it's the inevitable consequence of the left refusing to vote or elect truly left since 1968. It's the inevitable consequence of the democrap party JOINING the fascists as a response to being destroyed at the polls in 1980.
And it's the inevitable consequence of the voters on the left refusing to change one goddamn thing in spite of their party becoming fascist from top to bottom.

You all can cry all you want about her, her cat'lick bigotry, her supremacy of the rich, her fascism and the court's fascist activism.

But you all have been voting for this for 50 years. well, you got it. you should be proud.

At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is something else Cugel forgets: Trump still has the ability and the opportunity to completely disrupt the election and declare himself the victor without any proof. And with the record they have accrued, the feckless, useless Democrats will let Trump get away with this.

At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thomas almost makes a great point: "It's difficult not to be cynical about the Democratic Party these days. Their leaders talk like Donald Trump is the worst threat ... since Hitler (and give him everything he wants)".

1) their leaders SHOULD talk like that. but mostly they just mumble.
2) their leaders (pelo$i and nadler, either one) SHOULD be impeaching him for about 5 dozen charges, but they refuse
3) and their remedy to the worst threat since hitler is to force nominations variations of herman goering over the closest thing we have today to FDR... and expect progressives to jump for joy.
4) though not jumping for joy, most progressives will lube up, bend over, and take it again.

Thomas misses the part where pelo$i and the democrap leadershit enable and empower trump JUST so they can run against him this time... and maybe they won't lose... THIS TIME.

that's what passes for strategery in your worthless feckless corrupt neoliberal fascist party.

vote enthusiastically.


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