Wednesday, July 06, 2005PERMALINK Posted 8:41 PM by Jordan
Supreme Court Abolishes OSHA, EPA
Well, not yet, anyway. But pay attention.
Amidst all of the discussion about the impact of a new Supreme Court justice on abortion and other "cultural/values/religious/moral" issues, a few bloggers and journalists have also been looking at the implications for this administration's real friends, corporate America.
Political analyist David Sirota points out that
the media regularly misses the real story about how Big Money runs the show in Washington, D.C. Reporters seem to prefer the fake storyline of "conservative" vs. "liberal" as opposed to the real storyline of "Big Money" vs. "Ordinary Americans." That's what this fight is ultimately going to be about, and Corporate America is going to thrust itself into the middle of this, ramming millions of dollars into the process to make sure they get the climax they want - a Justice they can be in bed with whenever they desire, and that will perform whatever dirty little favors Big Business says. Our side had better be ready to expose their scheme - and counter it with our own fight.I have already written about some of the theoretical/ideological underpinnings of the "constitution in exile" movement which argues that the most important rights are economic rights, particularly the right to property, and anything that take away those rights -- such as environmental or workplace safety laws -- are, or should be, unconstitutional. As Jeffrey Rosen wrote in the NY Times last April, the implications of this movement are enormous and need to be remembered in the current struggles over Bush's court nominees:
Cass Sunstein, a law professor at the University of of Chicago, will soon publish a book on the Constitution in Exile movement called "Fundamentally Wrong." As Sunstein, who describes himself as a moderate, recently explained to me, success, as the movement defines it, would mean that "many decisions of the Federal Communications Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and possibly the National Labor Relations Board would be unconstitutional. It would mean that the Social Security Act would not only be under political but also constitutional stress. Many of the Constitution in Exile people think there can't be independent regulatory commissions, so the Security and Exchange Commission and maybe even the Federal Reserve would be in trouble. Some applications of the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act would be struck down as beyond Congress's commerce power." In what Sunstein described as the "extreme nightmare scenario," the right of individuals to freedom of contract would be so vigorously interpreted that minimum-wage and maximum-hour laws would also be jeopardized.Rosen pointed out in an earlier article that although the Rehnquist court has struck down 33 federal laws since 1995, the highest annual average ever, the moderates (Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy) have kept the court from repealing any major environmental or workplace safety laws. And there are plenty of lower court Republican-appointed “candidates” for the Supreme Court whose previous actions show that they would be ready and willing to declare the Occupational Safety and Health Act or various environmental laws unconstitutional.
So much for theory. What about the simple fact that Bush has a tendency to reward his friends -- who also happen to be his corporate supporters? Blogger and labor economics professor Nathan Newman puts it bluntly:
Forget the Ten Commandments: corporate America knows that case after case decided by the Supreme Court are about bread-and-butter economic issues.NAM itself agrees, as VP Pat Cleary writes in the NAM Blog:
Over 80% of a federal judge's civil caseload is consumed with issues we care about: contracts, torts and employment litigation. We want justices who make decisions based on what a contract says, not on what they think it should say, and based on what the law says, not on what they think it should say.The interesting thing here is that when it comes to Supreme Court appointments, the administration's religious "values" friends are not necessarily on the same wavelength as the administration's corporate friends
As the Wall St. Journal pointed out last week,
The emerging corporate agenda is different from, and at times contradicts, that of their religious-conservative allies. The Christian right, represented by groups such as the Family Research Council in Washington, has been lobbying the Bush administration to appoint a Supreme Court justice who opposes abortion and gay marriage and favors school prayer and public religious displays. Top business priorities include more protection for intellectual-property rights, more flexibility in clean-air emissions standards, restriction of jury awards and a lenient interpretation of the Sarbanes-Oxley law that imposes new accountability and disclosure requirements on businesses.Bloomberg news adds more detail:
Both Scalia and Thomas read the U.S. Constitution as conferring only those rights contemplated by its authors. They say the Constitution doesn't protect abortion and gay rights --and likewise doesn't bar excessive damage awards.What this all adds up to is an unprecedented involvement of business money and influence in the process of picking the next Supreme Court justices. The Journal reports that NAM's President John Engler is setting up an endorsement process:
A new committee of executives will vet any White House nominee based on his or her business rulings.The LA Times notes that the Chamber of Commerce has been in this game for a while:
It endorsed Thomas, Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen G. Breyer but did not see the need to campaign for those nominees.Let's make sure we keep our eyes on the ball, and lets make sure our Senators and the media pay attention to the real issues as well.
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