Hostility to Democracy in the Current Judiciary

We are interacting with a lawyer who responded two days ago in the Comments section to my DM on “Dred Scott & SCOTUS Spreading Dread Across the Land.”

Civil rights scholar Sherrilyn Ifill and Alex Wagner discuss how the SCOTUS insurrectionist disqualification ruling damaged the nation’s ability to defend against extremists in government.

Kenneth Matheny warns us that another court case coming this year from SCOTUS may well “greatly weaken federal agencies that protect our environment, consumers, and workers.”  He also tells us that not only has he lost respect for the federal courts, but “I am also ashamed to even admit that I’m a lawyer (happily retired).”

Again, an honest confession about the decline and demise of professions in our time that seem to have lost the reason why they exist, the potential for good they can do in the world as well as an awareness of the evil that can be perpetrated by them.  A loss of morality and ethics and purpose. 

To renew our professions, we must critique the educational systems– including the bodies that accredit them–for what is and is not missing within the training of our professional bodies.  I have frequently said that January 6 was a report card on the American educational system—and that it gets an F. 

In November 2023, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that citizens and groups cannot sue for voting rights violations: the case is expected to go to the Supreme Court. MSNBC‘s Joy Reid interviews Sherrilyn Ifill.

There was a time when there was a basic value system that marked the mythos of our country but that seems to have been banished from education today.

Says Matheny, Much of our current federal judiciary is hostile to democracy.  That’s not an opinion.   It’s a fact.  It’s why they gutted the Voting Rights Act.  Strike number three from the Roberts court–Yes, they have gutted the Voting Rights Act.

They have created a path to secret slush funds for dark money by their Citizens United debacle and in the process elevated billionaires like the Koch brothers and others to extraordinary influence on our political and judicial decision making. 

MSNBC‘s Lawrence O’Donnell and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) discuss Clarence Thomas’ refusal to recuse himself as a means of protecting Ginni Thomas from DOJ scrutiny.

And of course, the outsized influence of Opus Dei and its many enablers such as Leonard Leo and his billionaire buddies and his nominees for court judges, all in its fascist spirit.  Thus Oligarchy, not democracy, rules.

But Matheney assures us that “all is not lost.”  Which we will explore in upcoming DM’s.  

To be continued.

See Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood For Our Time.

Also see Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.

Banner Image: Marchers with signs at the March on Washington, 1963. Original black and white negative by Marion S. Trikosko, taken August 28th, 1963, Washington D.C, United States. Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Uploaded to Unsplash by Unseen Histories on Unsplash.

Why do you think SCOTUS “gutted the Voting Rights Act”?  What difference does that make in our lives?  And our democracy?  And our upcoming election?  And our souls?

Recommended Reading

The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood For Our Time

Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”
“Fox approaches the level of poetry in describing the reciprocity that must be present between one’s inner and outer work…[A]n important road map to social change.” ~~ National Catholic Reporter

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them. 
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science.  A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics

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7 thoughts on “Hostility to Democracy in the Current Judiciary”

  1. Avatar

    The overriding ‘difference’ is that the SCOTUS no longer operates as an independent and high court. To be an esteemed member of this ‘club’, one must follow the partisan dictates of the ruling class and the partisan political stands it takes. The electorate could change all of this under better leadership and in getting all disenfranchised voters out to turn-over the representative seats in both states and federally. Talking with one’s vote exercised is the only talk that counts. — BB.

  2. Avatar
    Gwen McGrenere

    Currently democracy is under siege in the USA, Israel and other countries.

    Leading up to the destruction of the Temple in Judea in 70 c.e. there were civil wars brewing in both Judea and Rome. Several decades earlier Jesus challenged the corruption in the Jerusalem Temple. He was arrested and tried by the Roman Legate in Judea, Pontius Pilate, who asked Jesus “What is truth?” Then he asked the people to choose between Jesus and Barabbas. They chose Barabbas.

    Today in both the USA and Israel truth is under siege, and the people must choose between an enlightened leader and right wing populist. In the background there are “wars and rumors of war.”

  3. Avatar

    The courts are in a feeding frenzy of figuring out “clever angles” and bringing fringe cases before courts to make excuses for creating new laws out of thin air, making up “legalese-sounding” justifications, pulling in garbage opinions, riffing on ways to gut the rights that have been enshrined in state and Constitutional laws for decades. Precedent is inconvenient but not insurmountable. “Originalism” is a fancy excuse to make up pseudo-history: “our favorite nostalgic impressions of our forefathers’ thinking that we want to impose on people.” And a trail of conveniently extremist opinions has been carefully laid down over decades by Clarence Thomas, who for years sat absolutely silently during Supreme Court hearings but wrote fringe, radical dissents while he moved into seniority. Now he and Alito, empowered with 3 more far-right, acquiescent justices that were slipped into the Court, are acting on those “conveniently-laid” opinions. It’s a mess that was carefully orchestrated by Thomas’s “buddies” (sugar daddies): Crowe and Leo.

    Gleeful dismantling of rights is now the favorite entertainment for the right wing and their enabling Courts. The Supreme Court is an unchecked branch of power, which Thomas and Alito are arrogantly flaunting.

  4. Avatar

    Gutting the Voting Rights Act simply makes it easier for those in power to remain in power. There are multiple ways of ensuring that the “wrong” people don’t get to vote, including decreasing the numbers of polling places, decreasing the numbers of post office boxes, shrinking the voting times, gerrymandering, etc., etc. Those in power know how to manipulate the “justice” system by tying people up in endless lawsuits, countersuits, delays, etc., etc. The public acts of SCOTUS normalize what is clearly unconstitutional and give the go-ahead to right wing politicians in states to pass the most oppressive laws I have ever seen. And to endorse bullying and intimidation, like Florida’s 30,000 strong private army of the governor’s (the original proposal was for 3000)–the only criterion seems to be loyalty. We must do what we can in our own lives and neighborhoods and not allow our souls to be corrupted.

  5. Avatar
    Martina Nicholson MD

    Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and the work we do (or don’t do) matters. To subvert justice by making terrible laws or bad decisions about the cases challenging the laws, is terrible, is a kind of sin. It is a sin which has long-term devastating consequences. We have to remain vigilant and to try to parse the social and legal “rules” so that we live up to the stewardship of creation. It is terrible that unworthy people were allowed to be in the Supreme Court; people who are not basing their thinking on the good of the people. I started reading “Sheer Joy” and am loving your conversation with St. Thomas. I love this statement of his: “Errors made about creation will result in errors about God as well.” This is profound, and as you have pointed out, to build an edifice of thinking on “doubt” instead of on belief in and recognition of the truth, has corrupted the moral framework of our whole era. What matters, what lasts; what can we claim as true? How do we embody what should be human nature’s spontaneous care for the common good? I am thinking of Navalny, and recognizing that Putin is the natural follower of Stalin. Not to have courage and honesty, but cruelty and scurrilous behaviors, thieving, destructive, undermining, murderous actions. We have to turn away from this bullying and embrace the truth, the good, the morally excellent, as part of justice.

  6. Avatar

    I have felt that the judges in Trump’s cases – Engoron, Kaplan and Chutkin have been very sound (not Cannon in Florida). The judges in the DC appeals court who heard the arguments about Trump’s immunity claims seemed very sound. I am upset that the Supreme court has taken up the immunity claims!!! E. Jean Carol’s attorneys, Roberta Kaplin and team, were remarkable. Jack Smith is remarkable. The January 6th committee was remarkable. Andrew Weissman and the many lawyers on MSNBC are remarkable. Judge Luttig and Professor Tribe are giving sound legal opinions very publicly. There are many strong legal voices speaking out and working in this difficult time for democracy. Many, many January 6th defendants have been convicted! I have hope in our judiciary.

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