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They sort of snuck up on the American public, but the Federalist Society, founded by Edwin Meese and Robert Bork have been trying to hijack our government under the guise of Constitutional absolutism.  Now that the dupe Bush was duped into appointing Alito and Roberts to go along with Scalia we have the perfect storm for ultra-conservative takeover of the laws of the land.  Oh. Did I forget Clarence Thomas?  Why not?

This latest election cycle showed how little many people know about what the Constitution says and means.  Everybody seems to have a certain take on its purity, its intent imbued by the founding fathers, its relevance to today’s events and, among other things, the Supreme Court’s rulings regarding certain aspects of the document.
 
Many people, myself included, were under the illusion that the Constitution was written in an egalitarian vein such that we had a truly representative Democracy.  It was not.  It was written by landed gentry who wanted to remain in power in order to oversee the "lower classes" in a fair and balanced way.  Even though their original intent was to NOT reproduce a monarchy, there was still strong flavor of a protectorate in the creation of the Electoral College, the lack of womens suffrage and the permission of slavery.  For a very long time, it was going to be only the landed gentry who could participate in the political processes in this country.  A more thorough examination of this is found in Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.

Well, it took us 90 more years after the Constitution was written to realize that slavery wasn’t such a good idea after all and that it conflicted with some people’s ideas about religion.  It took another 55 years to decide that it was O.K. for the other 50% of our adult population to actually have a vote in the quaint notion that they have something to say about who makes the rules regarding their lives.  That battle is still going on with the continuing saga of Roe v. Wade.  This argument suggests to me that there is as much a conflict over who "owns" womens rights as there is with the moral and ethical question.  The framers of the Constitution didn’t give women the vote, because they were, technically, property.

We currently have 3 Supreme Court justices who are members of the Federalist Society:  Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.  One could easily include Justice Clarence Thomas who votes in lockstep with these conservative justices, hasn’t asked a question in court in almost 2 years.  This organization is an ultra-conservative movement founded by, among others, Edwin Meese, Ronald Reagan’s indicted attorney general and Robert Bork, another discredited Reagan nominee who advocated rollbacks in civil rights legislation and the overturning of Roe v. Wade.  Being conservative is one thing, but being backwards is something else entirely.  A few years ago, Justice Thomas defended the Constitutional sanctity of slavery in a Parade magazine interview.

Even though James Madison co-wrote the Constitution and co-authored the Federalist Papers wherefrom this fraternity of neo-conservatives sprung, he sided with Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party in opposition the Federalist Party policies.  The society is based on Federalist paper # 78 wherein Alexander Hamilton says,

"The courts must declare the sense of the law, and if they should be disposed to exercise WILL instead of JUDGMENT, the consequences would equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of the legislative body".

So we now have a Supreme Court dominated by judges who think they are inviolate over the legislature and, presumably, the President as well.  In January I wrote a column suggesting the breakdown of the electoral process by the court’s Citizens United case wherein corporations were permitted to donate unlimited funds to any political candidate or movement they chose without having to report it.  In the 2008 election cycle, donations to political candidates and issues just topped $2 billion, the most expensive in history.  This last mid-term election saw spending around $7 billion.  

The Republicans, masquerading as conservatives, have been trying for over 20 years to get this Federalist philosophy of government in place so that the people are no longer in charge of who gets elected.  It should be clear to all of us that those doing the campaign contributing want to be in charge...just like Hamilton and the other Federalist Constitution framers intended.  No wonder the conservatives on our state school board want Jefferson out of the textbooks; it goes against their grain and their ideas about who controls who.

Originally posted to dolfin66 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 08:10 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (18+ / 0-)

    "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

    by dolfin66 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 08:10:05 AM PST

  •  I'm confused by your statement that (6+ / 0-)

    Thomas hasn't written an opinion in 20 years.  He's written many opinions as far as I can tell.  Not defending the guy but just confused by your statement.

    I don't belong to an organized party, I'm a democrat.

    by thestructureguy on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 08:21:07 AM PST

  •  Well the Electoral College Was Partly a Response (7+ / 0-)

    to information bottlenecks of their era. One of the arguments was that it was impossible for a presidential candidate to be well known and to campaign in all the states, hence the use of representative election.

    The other really fundamental problem with the entire concept of the Constitution is that it was designed outdated, for a world that had already disappeared. Hamilton is one of the few framers that understood that we were outgrowing agriculture and expanding more and more into manufacturing and trade.

    Those kinds of activity produce astronomical wealth to a very few. The framers mostly seem to have been keenly aware of the threats that posed, but they didn't successfully address them at all in the design of the Constitution.

    And that's why from the moment they handed us the keys, our economy was one of panics, bubbles and depressions every few years until the New Deal era gave us our only period of safe governance beneficial to the broad population.

    It's a tragedy of dimensions we can't easily calculate that principles of the New Deal-Great Society period were not distilled into Constitutional amendments so that our core system would stabilize the nation and protect the people.

    And if the plausible Republican retaking of the White House happens in 2012 or even as late as 16, we'll have a 6 or 7 seat radical federalist Court majority, and the entire experiment is over, reaching the conclusion that aristocratic economy and rule was right all along.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 08:21:54 AM PST

    •  THAT was my embedded point! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron

      Thank you for illustrating it clearly.

      In one of my last diaries I talked about FDR's 6 rights listed in his last state of the union speech.

      Woulda, shoulda, coulda....

      I'm afraid you're right about the experiment.

      "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

      by dolfin66 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 08:48:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  and, hell (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thestructureguy

    I attend FedSoc functions all the time.  They're wrong, but not evil, and the CLE credit is cheap.

    •  So, what you're saying is.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron

      they didn't buy your support with free food and a t-shirt, but they got you to validate them for cheap CLE credits?

      It strikes me as odd that you would go through the motions of getting CLE credits where -- to quote you -- "They're wrong."  I'm not sure I would feel comfortable with a physician getting CME credits at a place they identified like that.

      "They really don't want to 'win' the war; they just want to have one."
      -- DelicateMonster

      by 8ackgr0und N015e on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 08:53:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  they don't need me to validate them. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        radical simplicity

        They present provocative, but often wrong ideas.  They also invite people like me to speak to their audiences.

        It's not like they're wrong about what the law is, but rather where they'd like it to go.

        •  As an outsider it strikes me as odd (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dirtandiron, dolfin66

          Continuing with my analogy it's like a physician talking about reflexology and saying "They're not wrong about what medicine is, but rather how it should be applied."

          That sort thinking leads to interesting situations in the real world.  For example,
          torture.

          Whether the Federalist Society needs you to validate them or not is beside the point.  The fact is they have succeeded in co-opting people into accepting them as legitimate. I'm sure there are many nuaunced arguments to support that position.  However, the nuaunces that enable such up close and personal accomodations tend to lose their meaning at a distance.  It's why outsiders see the system as inherently corrupt.  It's why we talk about "The Village" and "inside the beltway thinking" and "K-street cabals", etc.

          "They really don't want to 'win' the war; they just want to have one."
          -- DelicateMonster

          by 8ackgr0und N015e on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 09:03:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I accept the analogy, but ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... I do believe not everything is a war, and there's a room for respectful debate.

            •  I agree with respectful debate. (0+ / 0-)

              But there is no point in debating someone who is paid dearly to hold an opinion that demonstrably dangerous.   There's a literary quote to that effect that I can't seem to locate now.

              Given the founding fathers of the Federalist Society, I fear anything gleaned from that will be fruit of a poisonous tree.

              "They really don't want to 'win' the war; they just want to have one."
              -- DelicateMonster

              by 8ackgr0und N015e on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 09:14:39 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  I think they should be called selectivists (4+ / 0-)

    They are never consistent in how they apply their views of "strict construction". At times, they will directly over rule the legislatures. At other times, they argue for deference. This seems to have nothing to do with judgment and everything to do with will. So they really are not Federalists either in James Madison's sense or in the broader sense of Hamilton's Federalism (and last I checked Hamilton was a founding father too). Nor are they really Jeffersonian.

    What they are, are statists (they defer to government and the electorate-i.e. the mob- on issues of personal liberty) and corporatists when it comes to protecting corporate property against the mob.

    In other words, whenever the mob wants to censure private behavior or government wants to invade personal liberty, they are OK with that. But when government wants to promote the general welfare against corporate interests they oppose it.

    Its funny how the public has come to acquiesce in the use of meaningless and inaccurate terms like "strict constructionist" or "activist".

    No real strict constructionist would possibly uphold most of what is done in the name of the war on drugs or the war on terror or even the extensive federalization of law enforcement. And how could a strict constructionist interpret the 14th Amendment to apply to corporations when the clear intent was to apply to freed slaves.

    •  I may be off base, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron

      but that sounds a lot like hypocrisy you're describing.  Roberts sold himself as a constructionist who weighed heavily on precedent, then turned around and wrote decisions where there was NO precedent - at least as far as I know - such as Citizens United.

      "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

      by dolfin66 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 08:59:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Roberts didn't write CU (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shanikka, MKinTN

        Kennedy did.  And it's built on plenty of precedent, while overturning some along the way.

        •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dirtandiron

          "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

          by dolfin66 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 09:08:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The most interesting aspect (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MKinTN, dolfin66

          of the Citizens United case was the court's decision to convert the case from an "as applied" case to a "facial challenge" case.

          To oversimplify, what this means is that the court chose to answer the broad constitutional question of whether any artificial person (corporation) can be regulated any more stringently than a natural person, not the very narrow question that was brought before it: whether the way in which a particular law, in a particular state had been applied to a particular company was constitutional.

          As a matter of fact, the case's scope was intentionally reduced before it was presented to the court - having been a much broader case at lower jurisdictional levels. Those bringing the case only wanted the "as applied" question answered and had no intention of seeking a "facial challenge."

          Justice Stevens' dissent was mostly a scathing rebuke of the impropriety of the court's action in expanding the scope of the case.

          Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

          by radical simplicity on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 09:51:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I didn't know that, but.... (0+ / 0-)

            it corroborates the intent of my diary:  This court has been waiting for this opportunity to give the Lords jurisdiction over the Serfs.

            "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

            by dolfin66 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 12:04:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  I think they are completely consistent (5+ / 0-)

      they always favor the oligarchs.

      "They really don't want to 'win' the war; they just want to have one."
      -- DelicateMonster

      by 8ackgr0und N015e on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 09:05:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Now (5+ / 0-)

    I hate Uncle Clarence with a passion, but this is just not true so you need to correct your diary:

    has never written an opinion in 20 years on the bench.

    Absolutely false.  One of the worst gems where the 8th Amendment is concerned was penned by no other than Associate Justice Clarence Thomas.

    He may not have written many opinions.  But he has indeed written them.  To my shame as an African-American attorney.

    If you don't stand for something, you will go for anything. Visit Maat's Feather

    by shanikka on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 09:07:54 AM PST

    •  Then why are the MSM.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron

      telling us he hasn't written any?  I'm only assuming he never took the lead on any decisions.  

      When the flap about his wife broke, the MSM reviewed his "career" very negatively.

      "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

      by dolfin66 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 09:10:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  who said that? what was your source? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dolfin66

        I'm only assuming you misread it.

      •  Umm (0+ / 0-)

        Because they aren't lawyers and therefore care less about what the truth is than we lawyers do? I can't help with that.

        Reviewing his career negatively is not the same thing as the false claim that he never wrote an opinion, so I'm not sure how your second sentence matters at all.

        If you don't stand for something, you will go for anything. Visit Maat's Feather

        by shanikka on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 09:26:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Then ignore it.... (0+ / 0-)

          and read the rest of the diary's message.  It wasn't about Clarence Thomas.  

          Have you noticed that most of the comments are pointed at him rather than the fact that this court is usurping the power from the people?

          "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

          by dolfin66 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 09:47:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The fact he doesn't ask questions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dolfin66

    doesn't necessarily make him a dolt. Historically SC Justices didn't ask many questions.  The appeals process is not like Law and Order. A case gets to the SC with nothing really not already known and briefed. Though it's fun and interesting to see the Justices and the lawyers interact it's not really necessary.

    I don't belong to an organized party, I'm a democrat.

    by thestructureguy on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 09:52:31 AM PST

    •  That's true. It's more that he's a dolt (0+ / 0-)

      that makes him a dolt.

      The first battleline in the Class War...no EXTRA tax cut for the rich.

      by reddbierd on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 12:05:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What about the point of the diary? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        thestructureguy

        I really don't give two shits about Thomas, per se, it's just that he follows Scalia's lead without fail.  Therefore, he may as well be a charter member of the Federalist Society.

        "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

        by dolfin66 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 12:07:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I recced your diary just because I am (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dolfin66

          not a lawyer and will never defend those who would like to see our democracy (what there is of it) taken away from us.
             If your diary is trying to say that the rich are reasserting their control after a short experiment in a 'Great Society' then your diary is obvious and brilliant.
             If, on the other hand, you are trying to inform those of us who are ignorant of the inner workings of SCOTUS then your diary is a fail...sorry.
             When you don't know something and someone comes along and points you to the truth you should be humble and say thank you. Your fighting with the lawyers who know what they are talking about (when it comes to this exact subject), makes you seem like a person uninterested in facts. Not a good rep for a diarist to have I wouldn't think.

          The first battleline in the Class War...no EXTRA tax cut for the rich.

          by reddbierd on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 12:22:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for the tip. (0+ / 0-)

            I did correct my error about Thomas which was based on information I read....somewhere.  

            I wouldn't presume to have a glimmer of a clue about HOW the SCOTUS works other than how it is SUPPOSED to work.  My wife is a labor and Constitutional lawyer, so my education here is basic.

            My intent indeed was to point out that the court is being taken over by oligarchs who want to control everything.  The SCOTUS seems inclined to give them that power, but the court doesn't realize that they will be removed once the power has shifted to the elite.

            There will be a Constitutional Convention alright, but the people and this court won't be part of it.

            "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

            by dolfin66 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 01:46:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  It may have been better to have (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dolfin66

          left him out.  Critical dissection of a diary especially when dealing with the law is a given on here it seems.  I like the tenor of the diary.

          I don't belong to an organized party, I'm a democrat.

          by thestructureguy on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 01:29:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  OK, but... (0+ / 0-)

      why all this rubbish about Thomas when he was/is such a minor player here and on the court?  I was trying to make a point about the future of the country and all everybody wants to do is piss on my shoe about a mistaken reference.

      Is that what DailyKos has devolved to?

      "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

      by dolfin66 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 12:06:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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