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Today’s the first day of the hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, the Koch Brothers’ (and, I guess, President Trump’s) pick for the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Kavanaugh will be joining the most anti-democratic court in modern history.
Whether it‘s sanctioning gerrymandering, or not giving much of a crap about your right to vote, the 5-4 conservative majority on the Roberts Court has proved that it’s thoroughly opposed to the solutions we need to decontaminate our democracy.
But don’t just take it from me. Today, Rhode Island Senator (and today’s hero) Sheldon Whitehouse didn’t want the wholesale contamination of justice by corporate and partisan interests to go unnoticed.
At the opening session of Kavanaugh’s hearing, the former prosecutor treated the Judge and the country with a blistering takedown of the Roberts’ Court’s attacks on democracy.
Whitehouse laid out in simple but stark detail how the toxic big money that’s corrupted our politics has contaminated the nation’s highest court.
So, for your viewing pleasure, Sheldon Whitehouse destroying the Roberts Court – the full takedown starts at 3:53
Whitehouse also posted a full transcript on Medium – but who’s got time for that? We’ve highlighted the most fiery pieces on the corruption of the Court, with a couple of annotations, below:
Every time a big Republican interest comes before the court, it wins. Every damn time.
Thus the mad scramble by Republican interest groups to protects the Roberts 5 that will give them wins. Big wins.
The litany of Roberts 5 decisions explains why big Republican interests want Judge Kavanaugh on the Court so badly. So let’s review the highlights reel:
What do big Republican interests want?
Well first, they want to win elections. What has the Roberts 5 delivered?
They’ve helped Republicans gerrymander elections. Vieth v. Jubelirer 5-4: license to gerrymander.
In Veith, the Court decided not to stop partisan gerrymandering in Pennsylvania in 2004; Oddly Whitehouse leaves out this year’s Gill v. Whitford, the Court’s shameful punt on partisan gerrymandering.
They’ve helped Republicans keep minority voters away from the polls: Shelby County, 5-4; Bartlett 5-4; Abbot v. Perez 5-4; despite the trial judge finding the Texas Legislature actively intended to suppress votes.
Shelby County shredded the Voting Rights Act, giving the South a big ol’ green light to suppress minority voters, directly leading to the Voter ID and voter purge laws we see today; Abbot was another gerrymandering punt in Texas.
Finally, [the Roberts 5] have helped corporate front group flood money into our political system.
Big money interests love unlimited power to buy elections, lobby, and threaten and bully congress.
Don’t we know it!
McCutcheon 5-4; Bullock 5-4; and the infamous, grotesque, 5-4, Citizens United decision.
No wonder the American people feel the the game is rigged.
Whitehouse doesn’t just lay out what the Supreme Court is doing to help billionaire conservative interest. He explains how, blowing the cover on the entire operation.
Here’s how the game works: big business and partisan groups fund the Federalist Society, which picked Gorsuch and now you.
If you don’t know the Federalist Society’s name, you should: It’s a right-wing legal group that, along with its partner organization Heritage, promotes radically pro-corporate policies.
If there’s any doubt about what their aims are, check out their list of “Madison Club Platinum” donors from 2015. Giving more than $100,000 each were Charles Koch, David Koch, Koch Industries (and that’s separate, how?), hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, Google, the family foundation of radical megadonor Richard Uihlein, and the corporate dark-money mastermind U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
As the White House Counsel admitted, they in-sourced the Federalist Society for this selection. Exactly how the nominees were picked, and who was in the room where it happened and who had a veto and what was said or promised – that’s a deep dark secret.
White House Counsel Don McGahn, a Federalist Man himself, has been given carte-blanche by Trump to reshape the judiciary. For his picks, he relied on a list of judges specifically curated by folks at the Federalist society. For all we know, David and Charles Koch could have picked Kavanaugh’s name out of a hat.
Then big business and partisan groups fund the Judicial Crisis Network which runs dark money political campaigns to influence senators in confirmation votes as they’ve done for Gorsuch, and now you.
Closely related to Federalist is the Judicial Crisis Network, a dark-money behemoth that spent $17 million on a terrifying spree of TV ads that bludgeoned just enough Senators to get Gorsuch confirmed last year.
Who pays millions of dollars for that, and what their expectations are, is a deep dark secret.
JCN’s donors are reputed to be linked to Federalist, though because they’re a dark money organization, we have no idea who they are. Even worse, a Maplight expose last year revealed that JCN’s budget came from one single donation of $28.5 million dollars from one donor.
Who is that donor? The Kochs? Sheldon Adelson? Richard Uihelin? My grandmother? Who knows.
Those groups also fund Republican election campaigns with dark money and keep the identity of donors a deep, dark secret.
Then, once the nominee’s on the court, the same business front groups with ties to the Koch brothers and other funders of the Republican political group amicus, friend of the court briefs. Who is behind those friends is a deep dark secret.
The American public thinks the Supreme Court treats corporations more favorably than individuals compared to vice versa by a 7-1 margin. 49% of Americans think corporations get special treatment there.
We need not wonder why. Whitehouse has laid it all out: The same secret billionaire donors and corporations that are corrupting our elections have done the same thing to the Supreme Court.
And with Brett Kavanaugh, they’re using the same toxic playbook.