What Kind of Justice Will We Vote for On Election Day?

There is a particularly interesting reader comment to Jonathan Bernstein's column on why the Supreme Court is the most important issue in the presidential election (which we blogged about here). One very conservative commenter posted on why he wanted Mitt Romney to nominate the next Supreme Court Justices, citing his desire for a “commonsense view of the words of the Constitution.” Yet when asked if he thought that the Framers had intended for corporations to have all the rights of people, he expressed a view much more in line with the dissent in Citizens United than the arch-conservative majority:

ABSOLUTELY NOT.(Perhaps that is the DUMBEST decision EVER by the SCOTUS.) - CITIZENS UNITED is a PERFECT EXAMPLE of WHY we need a STRICT CONSTRUCTIONALIST & ORIGINAL INTENT Supreme Court.

The same commenter railed later against the idea that corporations have the right to spend money to affect elections.

Of course, you can't use just one comment to extrapolate to all conservatives. But it is a wholly unsurprising response from a conservative voter who is presumably not tied up with the corporate elite. Indeed, a survey released last week that was commissioned by the Corporate Reform Coalition reveals that 66% of Republicans and 63% of conservatives believe a ban on corporate funded political ads would improve politics in this country.

Citizens United is the most notorious but by far not the only example of the arch-conservatives on the Supreme Court bending the law in order to game the system to favor the already-powerful at the expense of ordinary people everywhere. They've:

  • severely limited the ability of victims of pay discrimination to obtain compensation for the discrimination (Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber)
  • made it harder for victims of systemic employment discrimination by large employers to file class action lawsuits (Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes)
  • empowered large corporations to cheat their customers in violation of state consumer protection laws (AT&T v. Conception)
  • crafted a new constitutional rule on an issue not even discussed by the parties in order to de-fund public sector unions (Knox v. SEIU)

This is just some of the damage done by the Justices that Mitt Romney promises to use as his models if he is ever given the chance to fill a vacancy on our nation's highest court. As much damage as Romney could do to America over a four-year term, that is nothing compared to the damage his Supreme Court Justices would do over the decades of their lifetime service on the Court.

In contrast, President Obama has a track record of nominating Supreme Court Justices who respect the words and the values of the United States Constitution, who have a deep understanding of the impact of the law on ordinary Americans, and who take a balanced approach to cases rather than being ideologically driven to transform the law to benefit the powerful.

PFAW