Feingold: Thanks to SCOTUS and Citizens United “we’re in a constitutional crisis”

UPDATE: Despite the John Roberts vote on the ACA ruling, which answered the question, will the Supreme Court decide to reboot its credibility, the following is still true, in my view. Nothing has changed but the optics.
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By now you know that in amongst the other news, the Supreme Court has slapped down Montana’s challenge to its Citizens United decision.

Slapped down means slapped down. In a one-page ruling (pdf) the high court said:

The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law. There can be no serious doubt that it does. … The petition for certiorari is granted. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Montana is reversed. It is so ordered.

Russ Feingold on that decision (my emphasis):

“This court had one fig leaf left after this one awful decision two years ago,” said the former three-term Democratic senator from Wisconsin. The justices could claim “they were politically naive or didn’t know what would happen when they overturned 100 years of law on corporate contributions,” he said.

But with the court’s decision on Monday, Feingold told HuffPost, that’s gone: “They have shown themselves wantonly willing to undo our democracy.” …

One of the most unpopular decisions in recent years, Citizens United opened the door for corporations and unions to spend freely in elections. The expansive language of the decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, led a lower court to allow individuals to pool unlimited money through groups now known as super PACs. The two rulings have led to an explosion of independent spending in the 2010 and 2012 elections, with many of the donors hidden from public view. …

“This is one of the great turning points, not only in campaign finance but also in our country’s history,” Feingold said. “I believe we’re in a constitutional crisis.”

The article also sounds the corporatist note — that the Republican justices, as much as they are conservatives, are also an “arm of corporate America.” This is quite an accusation, since it means they’re violating their duty to the public:

Feingold is particularly concerned about the Supreme Court’s relationship to corporate power. “What they have clearly become is a partisan arm of corporate America. This is a real serious problem for our democracy,” he said.

You should note that John Roberts, in voting to uphold Obama’s ACA, also voted to line the pockets of the health insurance industry, something the act was designed to do.

Several people have written that their bottom line in this Citizens United re-confirmation is, “Folks, it’s over until the Gang of Five is reduced.” I agree with that assessment. This is the Court saying, “Go home and deal with it. Citizens United is settled law.”

I also agree that this Court is firmly in the control of the New Barons (Our Betters). It’s hard to argue otherwise.

(Note — Corporate America is not the same people as the New Barons. Corporate America is just their engine. The boyz from Office Space are part of corporate America. Corporate America loots you. The New Barons loot Corporate America. Only the Barons win; everyone else, even us Office Space types, lose. It’s how so much money ends up in so few hands. Don’t lose that distinction.)

Lately I’ve been reminded of the writing of the early 1800’s thinker William Hazlitt (h/t Digby for the find).

Writing about the difference between the right and the left (in the 1820s, mind you) Hazlitt wrote:

They [the right] do not celebrate the triumphs of their enemies as their own: it is with them a more feeling disputation.

They never give an inch of ground that they can keep; they keep all that they can get; they make no concessions that can redound to their own discredit; they assume all that makes for them; if they pause it is to gain time; if they offer terms it is to break them: they keep no faith with enemies: if you relax in your exertions, they persevere the more: if you make new efforts, they redouble theirs.

While they give no quarter, you stand upon mere ceremony. While they are cutting your throat, or putting the gag in your mouth, you talk of nothing but liberality, freedom of inquiry, and douce humanité [sweet humanity].

Their object is to destroy you, your object is to spare them—to treat them according to your own fancied dignity.

They have sense and spirit enough to take all advantages that will further their cause: you have pedantry and pusillanimity enough to undertake the defence of yours, in order to defeat it. It is the difference between the efficient and the inefficient; and this again resolves itself into the difference between a speculative
proposition and a practical interest.

Meet the enemy, folks. It’s an open discussion what to do about it. It’s not an open discussion who they are.

“Constitutional crisis” indeed. In my opinion, until SCOTUS is collapsed, expanded or changed, it’s a failed and captured institution, a tool of the Billionaire’s Coup.

There; said that out loud. Sue me.

GP

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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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