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Supreme Court, madness
Photo credit: Jon Ricards / WhoWhatWhy

In many ways, the past few weeks have seen the Supreme Court issuing a Declaration of Dependence on themselves, on corporations, and on Donald Trump.

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In 1776, brave colonists threw off the shackles of British rule and declared America’s independence.

Now, 248 years after the birth of the United States, there is a new tyrant in town: the right-wing majority of the Supreme Court.

Just in the last few weeks, these unelected extremists have made several decisions that will have long-lasting effects on Americans in every walk of life.

The most controversial rulings have a common theme: They hurt regular Americans and benefit corporations and fraudsters.

In the process, the justices granted more power to themselves, as well as to any president who wants to commit crimes… like a certain Republican nominee who fetishizes authoritarianism, is a convicted felon, and faces charges in three additional criminal cases.

Oh, and they also protected Donald Trump, as well as many of the MAGA supporters who staged an insurrection on his behalf, from prosecution.

As a reminder, let’s take a look at how this 6-3 conservative majority came to be: Only one of them, Justice Clarence Thomas, was nominated by a president who was initially elected by a majority of voters.

Let that sink in!

That’s how these radicals, all of whom enjoy a lifetime appointment, got to make decisions that cannot be overruled. By the way, you know who else gets a lifetime appointment? Monarchs!

Yes, President George W. Bush appointed Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito in his second term (after winning the popular vote in 2004), but he probably wouldn’t have gotten the job in the first place if the court’s narrow Republican majority, which included Thomas, had not made him president after the controversial election of 2000 (in which Bush failed to win a majority of the popular vote).

The remaining three were appointed by Trump, who lost the popular vote in 2016 — by more than 2 million votes — and became president solely because of an Electoral College that currently favors Republicans.  

Let’s also not forget that one of these seats was stolen and should have gone to Merrick Garland, who was nominated by President Barack Obama but never received a vote because then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to allow the confirmation to go forward.

There you have it.

That’s how these radicals, all of whom enjoy a lifetime appointment, got to make decisions that cannot be overruled. By the way, you know who else gets a lifetime appointment? Monarchs!

To be fair, some of these justices are far worse than others. In just about every case, Alito, Thomas, and Justice Neil Gorsuch are clearly trying to impose their antiquated and religiously tainted worldviews on all Americans. If there is a terrible decision to be made, you’ll likely find their names on it.

That’s not quite the case for the others.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, for example, has bucked the conservative majority in some decisions, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett has occasionally found her own independent streak.

Finally, there is Roberts, who, in many cases, has tried to balance the court and, as opposed to the likes of Alito and Thomas, has integrity. He generally seems to want to do the right thing — from a conservative point of view — but with a 6-3 majority, he is no longer in control of the court.

And that’s the point. Since the conservatives on the court can always afford to lose one vote, one defection on any given decision by a conservative justice makes no difference.

It doesn’t even matter whether any of these six are corrupt or biased. 

For example, hypothetically speaking, if they receive gifts and trips from wealthy benefactors, or, once again hypothetically, their spouses align themselves with a coup attempt, they still get to participate in decisions if they don’t feel like recusing themselves.

Let’s take a closer look at some of this term’s rulings to see how these six unaccountable extremists are imposing their own views and values on the United States.

Since the day it was instated, the Chevron Doctrine has been a target of conservatives — who would rather defer to corporate interests than to scientific experts.

In recent days, there has been ample discussion about Trump v. United States… perhaps the most aptly named Supreme Court case in history.

Here, the (in)justices granted any president total immunity, as long as the occupant of the White House can make the case that any crimes he/she committed were official acts.  

In other words, they gave a career criminal like Trump a “get out of jail free” card.

Then there were Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. US  Department of Commerce.

With those two decisions, the court threw out the so-called Chevron Doctrine, which is based on one of its own decisions from 40 years ago and which granted broad authority to government experts to turn the sometimes ambiguous language of complex legislation into practical rules and regulations.

Since the day it was instated, the Chevron Doctrine has been a target of conservatives — who would rather defer to corporate interests than to scientific experts. Now, with a friendly court in place, they finally succeeded in getting rid of it.

As a result of these decisions, it will be much more difficult for federal agencies like the Food and Drug Administration or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to enact rules to protect Americans who have to do things like eat or work.

Instead, it will now be up to the courts, and ultimately these six conservative justices (at least for the foreseeable future), to decide whether these agencies acted within their authority.

But the Supremes were not done stripping authority from the federal government. In SEC v. Jarkesy, it finally afforded protections to one of the most vulnerable populations in the United States: fraudulent hedge fund managers.

The court decided that the Securities and Exchange Commission, unlike other federal agencies, is not allowed to levy civil penalties against fraudsters through in-house administrative law judges. Instead, these cases have to be adjudicated in federal courts.

Then there was a smattering of other rulings that disenfranchised Black voters, hurt environmental protection, and struck down a federal ban on “bump stocks” — devices that turn a semiautomatic rifle into an even deadlier, rapid-fire “machine gun.” Put it all together, and you realize why right-wing groups have spent so much money to get these six judicial tyrants on the bench.

They have impressively demonstrated that you don’t need to be oppressed by a king to be royally screwed.


Authors

  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a senior editor for Politics and director of the Mentor Apprentice Program at WhoWhatWhy. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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  • Jon Richards

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