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Top court sides with corporatocracy
by Jake Highton
Jun 14, 2008 | 626 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It speaks volumes about the Supreme Court when it could not rule on a case recently because it lacked a quorum of six. Three justices recused themselves because they held stock in companies being litigated. A fourth justice recused himself because his son works for one of the firms.

Embarrassing, yes. But it shows that the justices are rich and therefore seldom rule for the vast majority of people.

Seven members of the court are millionaires. Justice Kennedy, poor fellow, has a net worth of just $750,000. Weep too for Justice Thomas who has gotten just $1 million in book advances since 2003.

Earlier this year Chief Justice Roberts recused himself in a drug case because he owns stock in Pfizer, the parent company of a defendant in the litigation. This resulted in a 4-4 decision, upholding the appeals court.

The same thing could happen when the court soon hands down a decision on the damage suit against Exxon in the Valdez oil spill. Justice Alito recused himself because he owns stock in Exxon.

Executive branch officials are required to divest themselves of stocks that could be a conflict of interest. Not the justices. They are a law unto themselves.

The Supreme Court is the least known branch of government. That’s why few people realize that it is very much a part of the corporatocracy ruling America, the unholy triumvirate of corporations, banks and government.

The court made clear its preference for that corporatocracy when it ruled in April that the Indiana voter photo identification law was constitutional.

In effect, the decision restored the poll tax, designed to hold down black votes in the South, which the Supreme Court abolished four decades ago. The ruling also nullified the 24th Amendment, which prohibits poll taxes.

The Indiana law, upheld 6-3, requires citizens to show a photo ID at the polls, either a driver’s license or a passport. The decision reverses two centuries of jurisprudence declaring a voter signature sufficent ID.

The majority opinion, fracturing logic, was written by Justice Stevens, once a liberal but now becoming senile at 88 and returning to his GOP roots. He claimed the risk of voter fraud is real.

Palpable nonsense. Voter fraud is so rare as to be nonexistent. The truth is that photo ID is part of a concerted effort by Republican state lawmakers to prevent blacks, Latinos and the elderly from voting. Why? They tend to vote Democratic. The court ruling has prompted 20 states to seek enactment of photo ID statutes.

Up to 13 percent of Indiana voters, most of them Democrats, will be ineligible to vote for lack of photo ID. Indeed, about 20 million Americans do not have a driver’s license bearing a photo.

In dissent, Justice Souter saw through the chicanery. He said the photo ID requirement was a serious burden, one that Indiana had not justified.

Comparing photo ID to the poll tax struck down by the Supreme Court in 1966, Souter said: “The onus of the Indiana law is illegitimate because it correlates with no state interest so well as it does with the object of deterring poorer residents from exercising the franchise.”

The New York Times in an April 29 editorial noted the irony of the ID decision: “Seven years after it invoked the Constitution to vindicate what it saw as President Bush’s right to fair election procedures, we are still waiting for the court to extend this guarantee with equal vigilance to every American.”

Illegal immigrants voting? Ridiculous. As illegals, they would hardly risk exposure by trying to vote. However, vigilant officials did stop a subversive group from voting in the Indiana primary this year: a group of nuns without voter ID!

Driving down the voter turnout will help the corporatocracy rule in perpetuity. Keeping the poor, the elderly, racial minorities and college students — who are wild about Obama — from voting fosters that sinister design.

The head of the Republican Party in Alabama has admitted that the Republicans object to restoring voting rights of former felons “because felons don’t tend to vote Republican.” Positions are taken in politics, not because they are right, but because of partisan advantage.

America is far from the great democracy it boasts of being. Bush brags about the wonders of voting in Afghanistan and Iraq while his party denies the franchise to voters who do not have a driver’s license.

This is the reactionary Supreme Court that gave us eight years of the Bush stain and is now ruling so McCain can continue that imperial, unconstitutional reign.

Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno.
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