The US judicial system is a disgrace to justice. Judicial positions are filled based on loyalty and inclination towards certain issues, parties and fraternities, rather than objective factors such as professional qualifications, a sense of justice and ethical considerations. Although the judges are obliged to be impartial adjudicators, above any political considerations, they often vote along party lines, and their decisions are referred to as “conservative” and “liberal.”
Like members of Congress, federal judges are divided. According to the National Constitution Center, the Supreme Court’s nine justices are presently six Republicans and three Democrats. Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of such partisanship. A 2022 Pew Research survey found that 84% of American adults overwhelmingly hold that the Supreme Court justices “should not bring their own political views into how they decide cases.”
Furthermore, the judiciary is filled with incompetent individuals who favor the rich as the poor and minorities remain their victims. It was not surprising when the infamous 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission enabled corporate entities, wealthy institutions and individuals to donate unlimited money to elections. Consequently, politicians, especially presidents, have become the puppets of the rich in their struggle to finance their campaigns. Not only this, but some of them have become puppets of foreign states. The contributions of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to political campaigns in support of Israel and stopping those who think America first are well known.
AIPAC has also opposed any attempt by the US to negotiate with Iran, and continuously pushes for sanctions and hostilities against that nation. In reaction, Iran has finally put de-dollarization in motion globally. Thanks to AIPAC. So begins the fall of US hegemony worldwide.
Americans are looking at a stark future. The Supreme Court’s decisions are often tyrannical and devoid of moral values. Its extreme-right majority is now poised to roll back many “long-standing rights and laws.”
What do you really know about the US Supreme Court?
As for the US Constitution, Article III, Section 1 establishes that the US judicial power is vested in “one supreme Court” and that judges hold their office on “good Behaviour.” Going back to the precedent set by George Washington in nominating John Jay as the first Chief Justice, “good Behaviour” has meant that Justices must be patriots and high caliber jurists, known for integrity and impartiality.
While there is no mention of “checks and balances” in the Constitution, the principle is implicit in many of its provisions. Federal judges are appointed by the President, but the Senate must approve them. The Supreme Court may declare presidential actions or Congressional legislation illegal, but Congress can override them by changing the law or even proposing to amend the Constitution. The House of Representatives, furthermore, impeach executive officers and federal judges, including the President and Supreme Court justices.
In 1803 Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court established its authority to void actions of the executive and legislative branches found “repugnant to the constitution.” Over time, the Supreme Court has miserably evaded its responsibility to do so and keep those branches in check. The Congress has frequently delegated more and more of its constitutional power to the President, and the Supreme Court has not objected but colluded with the Congress, enabling “legislative distortion.” In doing so, the Supreme Court and the Congress have undermined the constitutional ideal of a balance of power.
The framers of the US Constitution created it in order to “establish Justice.” The 14th Amendment clearly states that no State can “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” However, the US has never lived up to its commitment. The bigotry peaked in the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford when the Supreme Court excluded “enslaved people” from US citizenship.
As for the “equal justice under law,” the recent arrest and arraignment of the former President Donald Trump shows how that has been turned upside down. Unlike others, Trump was treated with respect, including escort through a private corridor and not being handcuffed or subjected to a mugshot.
Like Congress, the Supreme Court has also given in to the expansion of presidential power. The President issues executive orders at will, “instant laws” passed without Congressional approval. The Supreme Court could overturn them but has chosen to do nothing. In other words, the court has practically become a politically rubber-stamp for the other two branches.
The reason is clear. Presidential nominations, especially those for the Supreme Court, have become increasingly political. Presidents have been appointing party loyalists to such positions. In 1991, George H.W. Bush nominated the infamous Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. The Senate confirmed his nomination, despite attorney Anita Hill’s extensive testimony of Thomas’s sexual misconduct. Now, Thomas is in hot water for violating the court’s own judicial ethics. Trump sparked outrage when he nominated Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of attempted rape, but Brett was also confirmed.
The Supreme Court has become incorrigibly corrupt. The justices have used their judicial positions to enhance their private interests. While on the Supreme Court, Justice Louis Brandeis promoted Zionism and advised President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Zionism-related issues. Meanwhile, for decades up to the present-day, Justice Clarence Thomas has been taking vacations paid for by a billionaire.
A culture of injustice
The Supreme Court’s corruption and incompetence have taken their toll. The US suffers from endemic male chauvinism, racism, nepotism, and deceit. It continues to have the world’s highest criminal incarceration rate, including a disproportionate number of Black and Native Americans, whom police likewise disproportionately abuse and murder. The US has the world’s most mass shootings, about 5 times that of Russia, which comes second to the US. The shooters are 74% white, nicely treated by police, and seldom die unless they commit suicide. Black, Latino and Asian shooters rarely live to see the next day. Harassment and abuse of Hispanics, migrant workers and asylum seekers by authorities have become common affairs. Women, as well, are still treated unequally.
Although females constitute the majority in the US, they continue to be discriminated against. Female prisoners in the US are sexually harassed with impunity. Violence against women and girls remains widespread and alarming. Gun violence remains high across the country, and their biggest victims are women. Assaults on Native American women and girls continue to be substantially more frequent compared to assaults on other US women. As for wages, the “gender pay gap” persists, with women making 17% less than men doing the same jobs.
Judicial incompetence has put the US on the path of revolution. It has frustrated and polarized Americans, with many of them living in anger. Over 32% of the wealth is possessed by the wealthiest 1%. Over 11% of Americans live below the poverty level and 60% “live paycheck-to-paycheck.” It was in this environment that Trump could manipulate the oppressed into the January 6 insurrection.
Nevertheless, the Supreme Court is not representative of democracy. Its judges are not elected by the people but nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, neither of which is representative of democracy, considering the US population.
The court’s degenerated status was summed up by a former judge. On March 11, 2020 in a letter to the US Chief Justice John Roberts, former Hawaii State Judge James Dannenberg resigned from the Supreme Court Bar. Addressing Roberts, he wrote, “You are allowing the Court to become an ‘errand boy’ for an administration that has little respect for the rule of law.” He noted that the Supreme Court was moving towards limiting freedom in favor of “wealthy, Republican, White, straight, Christian, and armed males—and the corporations they control.” He ended his letter by saying, “I no longer have respect for you or your majority, and I have little hope for change. I can’t vote you out of office because you have life tenure, but I can withdraw whatever insignificant support my Bar membership might seem to provide.”
Time for the US to Reform
The Supreme Court is riddled with corruption and incompetence. This is not sustainable in the long run, as we saw in the 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol building. At the very least, two steps must be taken:
- The justices must take an oath of allegiance to carry out impartial justice, not to serve Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, white or non-white sectors.
- The court must develop an “ethics code” to provide the judges with sensible standards for conducting themselves.
If the US doesn’t get its own house in order soon, another insurrection is inevitable.
[Anton Schauble edited this piece.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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