Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How to Rein In the Runaway Court

Many people have suggested amending the Constitution as a method of controlling the Supreme Court (SCOTUS). I disagree. Constitutional Amendments are difficult to pass. As SCOTUS has proven with its recent spate of rulings, the 5 Conservative Justices on the Court are capable of twisting Constitutional language to the benefit of the ruling one percent.

In Citizens United, SCOTUS ruled that corporations are people under the law and used that controversial assumption to gut federal election laws. Other decisions have been equally heinous. With each new decision, SCOTUS gives more rights to the richest one percent and strips everyone else of theirs. Amending the Constitution, even if possible, would take decades. There is another remedy available that would only take a congress and president that have a will to end judicial abuse.

Dictatorship does not need a single authoritarian ruler. Dictatorship can be established by a political class (like the Russian proletariat) or a religious group (like the English protestants under Cromwell). In our case, dictatorship has been instated by a court that has profoundly undemocratic and authoritarian beliefs. The Republicans have lost the Presidency and the Senate, but they have no need of those institutions if SCOTUS keeps on depriving us of our rights.

The Constitution says the judicial powers shall be vested in one Supreme Court and such others as Congress may establish from time to time. The Constitution did not create a court of nine members, or even one whose members hold their office for life. The wording of Article iii says nothing about how many justices should be on the Supreme Court, nor how they should be chosen.

President Franklin Roosevelt proposed to increase the number of Justices to 15. This could be done by a simple majority vote of Congress, with the President's signature. Fifteen Justices would be harder to co-opt than nine. More importantly, the addition of six new judges would break the grip now held by Conservatives set on establishing a theocratic plutocracy.

The Congress could do more. The Constitution says that federal judges should be life appointments, but does not specify that they must be organized into federal circuits and appeals courts. Federal Courts may just as easily be organized into a single body of judges who may at times be appointed to the Supreme Court and serve at other times in various other capacities.

This reform would have a beneficial effect on the speed at which cases are decided, since a larger Supreme Court could handle a heavier case load. A leveling of bureaucracy like this also tends to speed up cases because a case does not have to travel from one over-loaded court to another for years while plaintiffs continue to suffer and defendants continue to offend.

Such a reform is long overdue. We have suffered under the yoke of the wealthiest one percent long enough. The means of liberation is at hand. Let's use it.

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