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Supreme Court Overstepped Its Bounds

By James Donahue

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Paul Stevens, in an important appearance on CBS’s Sunday night television magazine 60-Minutes, told of his deep concern for the direction our nation is headed largely because of two key decisions by the high court.

Justice Stevens said he disagreed with decisions by a majority of the other judges on the high bench to intervene in the 2000 presidential election and stop the ballot recount in Florida, thus giving the presidency to George W. Bush.

He was also critical of the court’s 5-4 decision in January, 2010 that the First Amendment bars Congress from prohibiting corporations and unions from using their own money to make independent financial contributions to candidates for public office. The justices voting to support this decision argued that corporations are individuals and that the rule violated their right to free speech.

Stevens suggested that in both cases, the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds from merely interpreting the law to rewriting the law.

We strongly agree with Justice Stevens on both actions. Not only were both decisions wrong but in both cases, they led to serious consequences for the nation.

Unfortunately many Americans probably missed the Stevens interview because the show was, as usual, pre-empted by Sunday night football and did not run at its regular scheduled time.

Most Americans, if they are thinking at all, agree that eight years under the Bush Administration were nearly devastating for the nation. Bush launched two unnecessary wars, the military contracted with outside corporations and spent billions for services such as feeding the troops, transporting supplies, rebuilding bombed out cities and even bringing in hired mercenaries to help fight our battles. He stripped the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency and allowed big corporations to continue polluting the land, air and water. He instituted major tax cuts for the wealthy and allowed banks and lending institutions to gamble on bad real estate mortgages. Bush and the Republican legislators ran up one of the biggest federal deficits in American history.

By the time President Barack Obama came to power, the nation was in such a deep financial dilemma it was going to take years of sacrifice and cost cutting to pull us out of it. But every move Mr. Obama tried to make was cleverly blocked by Republican Senators.

Americans had a chance to kick the bums out of office in this year’s mid-term elections. But the Supreme Court ruling in January opened the door to billions of dollars in secret donations from corporate interests. A Tea Party grass roots movement designed to promote badly needed change appeared to have been cleverly overtaken by secret cash contributors that turned the movement into a Republican movement. For weeks before the election our television screens were bombarded with a barrage of attack ads against Democratic candidates. The money for these ads was traced to the Chamber of Commerce, which was keeping the names of the contributors secret.

It is obvious that the November elections were rigged. Instead of getting what they really wanted, voters only made matters worse by electing more sold-out representation with allegiance to big corporate interests.

This is why we now have a government in gridlock. The Republicans, who are making it clear that they will do everything in their power to make sure Mr. Obama never gets a chance at a second term in office, are in a position of making sure that none of the president’s initiatives get written into law.

Not only that, but they are fighting hard to maintain those big tax cuts for the rich, while at the same time blocking a desperately needed extension of unemployment benefits for millions of long-term unemployed workers. Also threatened are social security payments and Medicare benefits to the elderly. States are forced to cut services including medical assistance to the poor.

The nation’s broken infrastructure is no longer getting fixed. More and more Americans are losing their homes, many of them living in the streets.

All of this is happening while the nation’s wealthy are getting richer and richer.

Justice Stevens was quite right in voicing his concern for the future of the United States. He knows that when the high court becomes corrupted, the people no longer have a legal route for getting anything fixed.