At the hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s ultra-conservative nominee to replace the late liberal giant Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Dem, RI) gave a remarkably clear and extremely important tutorial on the forces that are really moving the Supreme Court’s decision-making in ways large and small.
I hope you will view this video, which succinctly captures so much about why our government is failing to meet the needs of the American people.
With simple charts, Whitehouse clarified why the Republicans have placed such great emphasis on the courts, particularly the Supreme Court, and demonstrated the huge implications of the 80 decisions that were reached by the Roberts court with a 5/4 majority, unfailingly comprised of the Justices that had been appointed by Republican presidents.
Whitehouse outlined four issues: the influence of dark money originating from an overlapping series of sources; the “demeaning and diminishing of civil juries” (his description was eye-opening in its impact); the goal of total deregulation so these people can make their money unfettered by environmental, safety, or other concerns affecting the public; and voting–the Court reaching a decision “nobody needed against bipartisan legislation on no factual record.”
The latter, known as the Shelby decision, removed constraints that had prevented states from discriminating against minority voters–opening the floodgates for voter suppression and gerrymandering.
The impending outcome of these hearings will be the culmination of a 30-year campaign by right-wing influences to get a Court that serves their needs.
It’s worth noting that Whitehouse has focused his Senate efforts on two issues that he sees interrelated: climate change (which is critically important to Rhode Island, where the sea levels are predicted to rise by 9 to 12 inches this century) and the impact of money in politics.
He told Jeffrey Toobin in a New Yorker interview that climate change had once had bipartisan Congressional support until the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.
That case and others like it, Toobin reported,
“freed corporate interests, especially oil-and-gas companies, to browbeat Republican legislators into withdrawing support for any climate-change legislation.”
After the primary defeat of a pro-climate change South Carolina Republican named Bob Inglis, Whitehouse stated, the group Americans for Prosperity, aligned with the far-right Koch brothers,
“said publicly that anybody who crossed them on climate change would be severely disadvantaged. They took credit for the political peril that they had created in stopping any Republican from going the green-energy route.”
I think Whitehouse did a huge service to the American public during these hearings by demonstrating why the Supreme Court has arrived at so many decisions that seem to be in opposition to majority sentiment and the public good.
With regard to the nominee, Judge Barrett appears to be a very knowledgeable and intelligent jurist--but one who has shredded her own integrity in her responses to questioning.
I’m not talking about her vague responses about Roe v Wade or Obamacare, though she was clearly nominated because her writings have demonstrated how she’ll vote on these issues of critical importance–sometimes life and death–to millions of Americans.
What troubled me is that, under oath, she couldn’t recall whether she’d heard Donald Trump’s comments that he planned to nominate Justices who would repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Of equal concern is the fact that this self-described “originalist,” ostensibly a devoted adherent to the Constitution as it was written, would not say whether Trump has the power to delay the election or what the Supreme Court might do if he refuses to transfer power peacefully.
The answers to those questions lie clearly in that very document: Article II, Section 1; and the 20th Amendment. She had to have known that.
Thus, she showed herself totally lacking in independence–winking her thanks at President Trump for nominating her and stomping on the will of the electorate and the cornerstone of American democracy.
If you haven’t yet voted, please make sure you do–as soon as you can!!