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Justice Kennedy Let the Sheepdogs Out

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., demonstrates with activists at the Supreme Court on Thursday as they protest President Trump's expected selection of a right-winger as a replacement for Justice Anthony Kennedy. He is joined at right by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

The minute Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, recriminations and hand-wringing could be heard and seen around the nation. Thousands of partisans on all sides of the political divide latched on to the U.S. Supreme Court as a means to “sheepdog” their ever-pliable followers. Hyperbole ruled the day as both Democrats and Republicans took to the airwaves to declare the end of the republic as we know it should the “other side” win.

The Democrats were first out of the chute as they ran faster than Usain Bolt to turn the upcoming judicial hearings into a carrot for their adherents and a stick to bash anyone who dares think for themselves. Bereft of any ideas and exposed as a party of courtiers, they have become a one-trick donkey that stokes fear in order to bamboozle their voters. Justice Kennedy retiring was a gift for the Democrats for this reason: They now have another way to coerce their base to stick with a party that works actively against Democratic voters’ self-interests.

Not to be outdone, the Republicans jumped on Kennedy’s retirement with gusto as they, too, sold dreams to their devotees to gin up votes and raise cash from gullible conservatives. Republican senators, congresspeople and conservative pundits were downright giddy at the thought of Donald Trump appointing a new justice who might tilt the Supreme Court to the right for the next generation or more. The dream was sold with a heaping of fear: This golden chance will become a missed opportunity if Republicans don’t keep the Senate and House in the midterm elections.

Overall, Kennedy’s pending retirement is a boondoggle for the politico-media complex. Yet again, complex issues that require somber thinking and rational conversations are turned into political footballs as rank opportunists take center stage to feign outrage and manufacture dissension. Abortion, guns, gay marriage and a litany of hot-button issues will be thrown as red meat to all sides to slice and dice America into a land of gang colors. This is how we are conditioned to accept a duopoly as a democracy and why the status quo remains fixed—regardless of how many Americans disapprove of the two-party racket that is passed off as a government.

Before you buy into the propaganda of partisan shills and get hoodwinked by Supreme Court rhetoric that will be flooding your social media and email inboxes for the next couple of months, please pause and consider these few things. First and foremost, the root of most injustices in America is economic inequality. On this front, the Supreme Court has not just been unhelpful. It has been the main driver of the disparity between the haves and the have-nots.

Time after time, liberal and conservative justices have sided with corporations and moneyed interests at a cost to the public. This is not a recent development. Throughout America’s history, the robbed judges have morphed into robbing juntas as they came down on the side of big business and stuck a knife in the backs of the poor, working and middle classes. The 14th Amendment—which was enacted to give standing to former slaves as citizens—was used by the Supreme Court in 1886 to give corporations legal personhood when it decided Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad in favor of the oligarchy.

Remember when Mitt Romney said “corporations are people, my friend” and got mocked roundly by the press? As tone deaf as Mitt sounded, in a world according to the Supreme Court, corporations like McDonald’s and Amazon are, in fact, considered people and afforded the same legal rights as humans. The number of cases in which the Supreme Court sided with corporations is so numerous that it would take volumes of books to detail the full scale of nepotism that takes place in the federal judiciary.

In this continued abrogation of justice and the swindling of our nation, both parties and all nine justices have been compliant. The Citizens United decision brought to surface what has been happening below the radar for a long time—that our nation has been hijacked by plutocrats and shattered by kleptocrats.

Alas, the establishment does not want us to focus on this fact. So many swine are feeding from the trough that few dare point out we’re being led by the treasonous and the self-serving. Instead, we will be treated to a kabuki dance of irrelevance as Democrats and Republicans run around with their hair on fire to incite their loyalists. The drama will garner water-cooler talk and big ratings, because we are a nation addicted to politics.

Let me spoil the ending for you: No matter which party controls the House or Senate this coming election, Trump will get his Supreme Court pick, our policies of endless wars and wealth transference to the uber-wealthy will remain constant, and the hot-button issues of abortion, guns and gay marriage will not be resolved in either direction by the Supreme Court.

Why, you ask? Because these wedge issues are sources of fortunes for too many. And more important, they keep us perpetually distracted from realizing how we are being fleeced—irrespective of our differences.

Teodrose Fikre
Teodrose Fikre is a journalist and the founder and editor of The Ghion Journal. Once a defense consultant, he was profoundly changed by a two-year journey of hardship and struggle. Going from a life of…
Teodrose Fikre

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