The View From the Couch: The State of the Court 

President Obama was on TV twice last week, both times for over an hour, though his stint on Friday at the House Republicans' "retreat" was the better performance, though one seen by less than one percent of the audience for the State of the Union. Without Justice Alito being offended by the mild criticism — compared to the other criticisms lodged against the Court for selling what was left of its soul to the Corporate world — offered by Obama in his speech, the SOU would have been flatter than it was. Alito pursed his lips, looked annoyed, even angry, and said, inaudibly (to the TV audience), "that's not true," or just "not true." Alito doesn't want to take any responsibility. How could he, since he's such a nice fellow, ever do anything wrong?

It's been pointed out over the last few years (I recall a NY Review of Books article, especially) how business-friendly the Court has been over the years of conservative domination. But they've been aided in the past by Justice Ginsburg, and other "liberal" Justices, but not this time. Corporations Are People has been a contentious and dubious idea since 1886, when it became law, though what passed for corporations then (railroads!) are dwarfed by what corporations are now. It is a legal fantasy with a lot of precedent to fall back on, but the current Court has taken it to its logical, most damaging, and farcical conclusion.

It must be all those altar boys on the Court currently, all wanting to please their betters, the people who run corporations, the high priests of the business world. Too much adoration of hierarchy in their blood streams. All of this does seem like a cherry on the top for the corporate world, since their actors seem to run the Obama administration, so what else can they do to us? I guess they can make it worse. It can always get worse. Since it has over the years.

Which brings me to Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, who now wants no terrorist trial in Lower Manhattan. Bad for business. Eric Holder, as I've written before, allegedly didn't consult his main man, the President, before deciding to try 9/11 types still at Guantanamo, in the Big Apple. Holder may or may not be trying to make up for his mistakes when he worked for Bill Clinton, his yes boss reputation, but his shows of independence in Obama land have not been reassuring.

Since I am the author of a book on a government show trial (The Harrisburg 7 and the New Catholic Left), I am against show trials by the government on principle. When the Feds want to draw everyone's attention to a piece of jurisprudence, make it symbolic and extra-legal, pumping the government up, patting itself on the back, look out. Making a show of a 9/11 trial is ill advised to begin with. Moving it out of Manhattan will actually be salubrious. It will take a little of the misguided hubris of the Department of Justice out of the equation. Put the trial near the Pentagon, somewhere in that district. A nice rural setting. Make it usual business, not the greatest show on earth.

And since it is likely that Obama will have another Supreme Court pick in the near future (Justice Stevens did seem disgusted and exhausted in his Citizens United dissent ), the best thing might be to nominate Eric Holder for the job. It won't change the makeup of the Court and Holder, most likely, will do the least harm there.

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William O'Rourke

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