Throughout history, there have been controversies over various Supreme Court rulings, but like most Americans, I didn't really pay much attention to many of their decisions. As I got older, I realized some of these decisions were not in the best interest of my country, or me personally.
The first Supreme Court ruling to garner my attention was Roe v. Wade in 1973. As a pro-choice advocate, I agreed with their decision. Several rulings occurred during the next couple of decades, but none that caught my eye.
Then in 2000, things changed...The deciding vote, in Bush v. Gore Presidential election, was a George H.W. Bush appointee. The Bush v. Gore ruling stopped the recount in Florida (whose governor was Jeb Bush) and selected Bush to run the country even though Gore had received the most popular votes. After this decision, both the country and the Supreme Court began a disastrous downward spiral.
This dramatic cultural change in the Supreme Court strengthened after George W. Bush appointed additional conservative ideologues to the bench that already had Justices Scalia and Thomas. To put the crowning touch on his conservative court, Bush appointed John Roberts as Chief Justice.
Outrageous statements by justices began to surface. Justice Scalia, known to be outspoken, uttered some shocking racist statements and compared sodomy to bestiality and murder. No other court has damaged our democracy more with their resolution, than the Roberts' Court.
The current conservative judges who are making these decisions are Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.
The Senate, choosing to ignore Anita Hill's sexual harassment allegations, appointed Justice Clarence Thomas by the narrowest of margins. Regardless of the Constitutionality of the issues or long standing precedents, he has continually voted as a radical conservative. In addition, when his wife Ginni, a conservative advocate, is involved with cases presented in court, rather than stepping down and declaring a conflict of interest, as most justices have done, he chooses to vote.
Earlier this year, Scalia authored a dissent in the 6-2 ruling that upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations on coal plants. The essence of his dissent was that the court was inconsistent from a unanimous decision it made in 2001 on EPA regulations. The problem is that the 2001 decision was opposite what he now declares it was. Numerous publications jumped on this misstep and one legal expert said, "Scalia's mistake appears to be wholly unprecedented in that it involves a justice flatly misstating core facts from one of his own prior opinions."
As this court became more conservative in its decisions, major shifts in our democratic process began to occur. Under Citizens United, the power was taken away from federal, state and local authorities and placed limits on how much corporations, unions and other deep-pocketed interest groups can spend on elections, as long as they don't coordinate with candidates. The 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision overturned the earlier ruling thus, giving birth to the Super PACS; a way to fund and influence candidates with no limits and no transparency.
As former lobbyist Jack Abramoff stated, "They've got to recognize that when a politician gets money in any amount from somebody who wants something back, that itself is bribery. That itself is corruption." As he urged the Supreme Court to reconsider this horrendous decision, he explained that the Justices weren't politicians and probably didn't realize how the money would affect politics.
I disagree and believe they knew exactly what they were doing. They have now doubled down on their desire to let the wealthy buy elections and run the country: not as a democracy, but as an oligarchy.
In the 5-4 split decision in 2014, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court basically removed all limits millionaires and billionaires can give to candidates, PACs and political parties. This decision was so politically biased that the Republican National Committee joined McCutcheon in pursuing the case. Those opposed argued that limits are necessary to fight corruption and buy elected officials.
Other surprising decisions of this Supreme Court:
• This Court ruled (earlier this month) that nonbelievers and those of other religions had no reason to be upset if the government meeting opened with a Christian prayer. This obviously blurs our doctrine of separation of church and state and religious freedom for all that our country was founded on.
• This Court agreed to the basis of the Affordable Care Act, but then chose to cut some key provisions. States have now been permitted to ban low income citizens from free healthcare (Medicaid), and other health benefits.
These rulings, in addition to gutting the Voters' Right Act, have encouraged red states to pass stricter voter ID laws, create long lines and make it harder for minorities, disabled and the elderly to vote. Our founding fathers would be shocked at what this court has done to take away from average Americans to give to the wealthy.
Citizens should take note of what is happening to our core values and how this court is obviating the rights that we have enjoyed for so long. If this court continues as is, who knows what they will do next... strike down Roe v. Wade?
In my view, this Supreme Court equates money to power. Those who have the money should rule. This concept extinguishes the American dream that built the middle class and our innovative and richly diverse society.
Follow Gerry Myers on Twitter: www.twitter.com/glmyers