A lot of people agree that the Supreme Court is as politicized, if not the most politicized, right now as it has ever been. There have been several five – four decisions, (with the Republican appointed Justices being the five), that have benefited the conservative movement in this country.
The first big decision that was made on a purely political basis was the Bush v. Gore decision when the five Republican justices appointed GW Bush president by stopping the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential race. They overturned the Florida State Supreme Court decision that had awarded the election to Al Gore.
They were so sure their decision was the correct one that in the majority opinion they said this decision was for this case only and was not supposed to be, and couldn’t be used as a precedent for any cases in the future. In other words they said, we have no real reason for appointing GW, we just want him to be president. Some media outlets did a recount later and reported that Gore would have won had the recount included the entire state.
What the Supreme Court is supposed to do is interpret the Constitution and either uphold precedent, or to establish a new precedent. Making a decision that was not based on precedent, or not establishing a new precedent is quite unusual, even unprecedented.
Then there is the Citizens United decision. In that decision they basically handed the keys to our democracy over to the very rich, large corporations, and special interest groups: Whoever can spend the most amount of money buying our politicians and our elections. They overturned a century of precedent with that one. They made every regulation obsolete that was imposed to keep the corrupting influence of unlimited amounts of money out of our elections. Citizens United has been called the worst Supreme Court decision since the Dred Scott decision. (In that decision the Supreme Court ruled that African Americans were to be considered 3/5 of a person for the purpose of voting).
Now the Supreme Court has the Affordable Care Act in front of it. They are supposed to decide if it is constitutional for the federal government. The Republican Party are the ones who want this law overturned. Overturning the law would do away with the regulations that helped the people to the detriment of the insurance companies profits.
One of the problems with finding the mandate unconstitutional is the fact that there are already federal mandates in place. Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance are just three programs with federal regulations mandating that you contribute money to them. They take the money out of your paycheck before you even see it.
You can bet that if the Republican Party wins this one, those programs plus more will be in front of the Supreme Court as they will see the way clear to finally get rid of the programs they have hated since the moment they were enacted.
Most court watchers think this is going to be another five – four decision. Seventy-five percent of people polled also said they thought the decision would be influenced by politics.
The Supreme Court has no rules. They can basically do what they want. It is up to Congress to check the power of the Supreme Court by impeaching justices that get out of hand.
Their only standard, if you want to call it that, is to avoid the perception of making biased decisions or being unethical. This might come into play here. The justices know how the American people view them. (The ones who know what is going on anyway). They also know that there is a big portion of America that will see a five – four decision as a political one. So they might avoid the perception of being partisan by ruling against the insurance companies and for the American people. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one, though.
The reasons that it appears the federal mandate part of the law, and maybe the entire law altogether, is going to be struck down is because of the type of questions asked by the justices. Some were downright bizarre.
Here are a couple of the most telling questions from Justice Scalia:
“You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages?” Scalia asked during arguments on the constitutionality of the law last week. “Is this not totally unrealistic? That we are going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?”
Seriously? You aren’t going to take the time to read a law you are going to rule on? Seriously? Sounds like a justice who has already made up his mind.
Justice Scalia: “Mr. Clement, I, didn’t take the time to figure this out, but maybe you did. Is there any chance that all 26 States opposing it have Republican governors, and all of the states uh supporting it have Democrat governors? Is that possible?”
Clement: “There is a correlation.”
A purely political question. Why even ask that?
Then there is Justice Thomas. He is so arrogant that he doesn’t even try to hide the fact that he is a partisan hack through and through.
Virginia Thomas, wife of Justice Thomas, is a conservative lobbyist. She founded a Tea Party affiliated group called Liberty Central.
Virginia Thomas has lobbied against the Affordable Care Act, and has even called it unconstitutional. This is a wife of a Supreme Court Justice being a major political player. At the very least Thomas should recuse himself. My personal opinion is that if you want to marry a judge, you should then give up all political aspirations you might have. If it were any other judge in this country, other than a Supreme Court Justice, there would be an investigation.
There should be an investigation here as well, especially considering this:
Justice Thomas’s wife, Virginia Thomas, has always worked outside of the home and Justice Thomas has always included his wife’s income on the financial forms the Justice’s have to file. Well, that is until his wife began lobbying. Then, for some inexplicable reason, he “forgot” to include his wife’s income for several years while she was lobbying. That is almost $700,000 worth of income not reported because one of the supposedly smartest people in this country “forgot”. Yeah, and there always is that bridge I could sell you.
Either Thomas is corrupt or his mind is getting so feeble that he could “forget” to include his wife’s income. Either way, he shouldn’t be on the bench.
Regardless of what the decision is in the Affordable Care Act case, it is going to be seen as a political one. The conservative movement in this country has succeeded in turning the Supreme Court into a political institution. This is sad for America, Americans, justice, equality, and the American way of life.