The Supreme Court of the United States is certainly not operating in a vacuum that is immune from America’s very polarized politics. In fact, every Presidential candidate in recent decades has reminded voters that control of the highest court in the land will be determined by the results of Presidential elections. If you don’t want the country to throw-out Roe-vs. Wade, if you don’t want civil liberties limited; if you don’t want corporate interests to take priority over those of people, etc., you have to vote for a Democratic candidate. On the other hand, if you believe in limited government and the right of individuals and corporations to step all over humanity in the cause of acquiring wealth, you obviously want a Republican President to select the next justices on for the court.
That said, many of us still wish that some members of the Supreme Court would show a bit more discretion when it comes to who they let brown-nose them in public. After all, in theory, unlike all the Republicans in Congress who have signed away their right to actually legislate to their godfather, Grover Norquist, most Americans would still like to see the justices of the Supreme Court make some effort at wearing a proverbial robe of judicial independence and impartiality.
Last Thursday, the high court announced that it would consider the challenges being brought against health care reform legislation (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) more commonly referred to these days as, “Obamacare.” The fact that this legislation makes it possible for more Americans to have access to health care, Obamacare does create some limits on the private sector’s capacity to make unbridled profit. And any regulations or limitations on corporate greed is viewed by the private sector and the Republican Party as nothing less than treachery in the cause of subverting the American way.
And there is no sector of American industry more unambiguously committed to profit at any price, than those companies who control public access to health care: insurance companies, private health care providers and the pharmaceutical industry. If you are an older American and/or have a serious medical problem, you know all too well that the unofficial motto of America’s health care industry is: Profits first, people second.
Those opposed to the health care legislation are not going to try to destroy it by arguing that the government has no right to protect the rights and interests of consumers. Nor will the enemies of Obamacare argue that the government should not in some way regulate the health care industry. The legal challenge to the “Affordable Care Act,” is going to be made on one issue alone: the government has no right to mandate that private citizens buy health insurance.
Actually, the new health care regulations would not require any American to buy any insurance policy that he/she really doesn’t need or can’t afford. Regardless, this very practical and malleable requirement will be the noose on which the enemies of health care reform hope to end its life.
Writing in the LA Times, columnist James Oliphant, reported on a notable event that took place last Thursday evening just hours after the Supreme Court announced it would hear legal challenges to health care reform legislation. The event was the annual dinner of the conservative organization known as, The Federalist Society. Their website describes the organization this way:
The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order. It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be. The Society seeks both to promote an awareness of these principles and to further their application through its activities.
Oliphant, thought the public might be interested in knowing some facts about last Thursday’s Federalist Society dinner:
- The lead attorney who will argue before the Supreme Court that Obamacare is unconstitutional will be, Paul Clement. His law firm, Bancroft PLLC, just happened to be one of the sponsors of The Federalist Society dinner.
- Another sponsor of the evening was the law firm Jones Day, which represents the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). The NFIB is also one of the pro-business groups challenging the constitutionality of health care reform.
- The pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, Inc. which Oliphant notes, “has an enormous stake in the outcome of the litigation,” also thought that being a mega financial benefactor of the Federalist Society dinner would be in their best interest.
Of course, there is absolutely nothing surprising, illegal or unethical about a group of law firms and companies opposed to health care reform sponsoring the annual banquet of a right-wing political organization. What was noteworthy about last Thursday evening’s Federalist Society dinner was who, all these plutocrats chose to honor: Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.
Now that you too know this information, we trust you are not at all concerned about the fact that two justices of the highest court in the land were apparently quite comfortable allowing litigants to a case they will shortly hear, to publicly kiss their highly objective judicial asses in front of the whole world. Or are you?
Not surprising, the Senator from Kentucky, who has made it clear time and again that his first responsibility as an elected official is to make sure Barack Obama doesn’t get a second term, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. KY), as well as number other Republican House leaders were on hand to witness litigants to a Supreme Court case boot-lick two Supreme Court Justices.
In commenting on the event, Bob Edgar, President of Common Cause noted:
“This stunning breach of ethics and indifference to the code belies claims by several justices that the court abides by the same rules that apply to all other federal judges. The justices were wining and dining at a black-tie fundraiser with attorneys who have pending cases before the court. Their appearance and assistance in fundraising for this event undercuts any claims of impartiality, and is unacceptable.”
You might want to share this story with anyone you know who thinks that the Occupy Wall Street movement is out of touch with reality and doesn’t understand how America operates. They understand all too well.