"Judicial activism" is way too tame a phrase for what Chief Justice Roberts & Co did here. This was a coup — a plotted overthrow to enthrone corporate political interests."
February 19, 2011- One of the great works of American political literature is Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary, first published in 1906. From A-Z, Bierce offered about a thousand irreverent definitions of political, legal, and cultural terms, getting much closer to the truth of what the words really mean than the formal definitions you'll find in Webster's. For example, consider this stinger: "LAWFUL, adj. Compatible with the will of a judge having jurisdiction."
A century later, Bierce's elucidation of the term pretty well nails the Roberts Court, the five-man junta of Chief Justice John Roberts and his fellow black-robed corporados on the Supreme Court: Sam Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. For these extremist judicial activists, 'lawful' is whatever they will it to mean, even if their rulings defy logic, reality, the will of the people, the Founders' clear intentions, legal precedent, common sense, and any sane measure of justice.
While the executive and legislative branches of government receive constant (and often scathing) media scrutiny, the daily decrees of the judicial branch are given only sporadic and mostly superficial coverage. Yet, at the judiciary's highest level, the Roberts Court has become openly and aggressively political, deliberately rigging the scales of justice to enthrone big corporations — the least democratic force in our society — over the rest of us.
From behind the imposing marble walls of Washington's majestic Supreme Court building, this slim majority of five unelected, unaccountable government officials with lifelong tenure has been hurling bombs at our democracy. They've hit us with decision after decision enhancing the power of corporations at the direct expense of workers, consumers, local communities, our air and water, voters, the elderly, and… well, anyone and everyone who stands up in court to resist the rise of corporate hegemony in America.
[INTERESTING ASIDE: Teabag-wagging mad-as-hellers say that the overriding purpose of their uprising is to restore political authority to 'the people' by shrinking the intrusive power of an out-of-touch, big, bad federal government. So, where are they? You don't get bigger, badder, more intrusive, and more out of touch than having a cabal of federal judges operating from a secretive government bunker twisting the law of our land for the sole benefit of America's largest, self-serving corporations. The Supreme Court's corporate bloc has evolved into the most dangerous branch of the federal government, routinely using its arbitrary power to undermine the people's democratic authority over our country's economy, environment, and political process. But we hear not a peep about this from Tea Party leaders, or from such camp followers as Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, and certainly not from the congressional Republican leaders who now purport to be the carriers of the teabag agenda. Curious, huh?]
The four biggest corporate hits of the Roberts Court
To comprehend the depths of this court's mendacity, we have to start with a rude fact: John Roberts lied.
When nominated by George W in 2005 to be America's top jurist, Roberts had to convince skeptical Senate Democrats that he would not be a partisan hack and/or a corporate shill who'd use his judicial gavel to hammer the law into shapes favored by the moneyed powers. The skepticism was richly deserved, for Roberts had long served corporations as a Washington lawyer (making him a millionaire) and had been a faithful GOP team player (including his legal work in 2000 to help George W wrest Florida and the presidency away from Al Gore).
Thus, to soothe the senators and charm the media, Roberts began his Senate confirmation hearing by drawing a folksy, Norman-Rockwellesque sports analogy to his judicial philosophy: "Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules. They apply them… They make sure everyone plays by the rules. But it's a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire." He added that the distinguishing mark of his court would be one of "modesty and humility."