Monday, June 18, 2012

Is Capitalism a Constitutional Right?

by Dick Mac

The Supreme Court of the United States is, more or less, a respected institution committed to jurisprudence and Constitutional interpretation.

Constitutional interpretation has changed over the decades,as you might expect (if you have a brain used for something other than remembering the route to McDonalds).  Two areas of United States law that have been changed by the Supreme Court that come immediately to mind are:  the definition of personhood ( post-slavery concept attempting to define the rights of brown-skinned people in America), and (2) capital punishment (our collective right to put to death someone we don't like).

In its current and most recent terms, SCOTUS has been discussing a lot of economic issues, including those associated with personhood.

The justices have, historically, dealt with many economic issues; but it hasn't been until the Roberts court that SCOTUS seems to be defining capitalism as a constitutional freedom, as opposed to commerce being protected by the Constitution.  Today's SCOTUS is a bit of an embarrassment, as one of the associate justices is totally unqualified to sit as a judge in any court and has not posed a question in a case for over six years.  Sadly, he is one of the younger Justices and will be present on the bench for a long time to come.

Justice Clarence Thomas sits on the bench for one reason alone, to vote the right-wing stance on every case that comes before him.  Thomas is key to helping the right-wing define capitalism as a constitutional right, as opposed to free commerce being a constitutional right.  Not only is he trying to help define capitalism as a right, it is an insidious form of capitalism that Gore Vidal, in the end of the last century, said creates " . . . socialism for the rich and free-enterprise for everybody else."

It's not really capitalism at all, but a hybrid economic plan guaranteed to eliminate constitutional freedom and protection of actual people (human beings) in order to advance this economic theory known popularly as "reaganomics."

One issue of this insidious economic system is the notion that the People (using their government - which is our government of, by, and for the people) have no right to regulate business, that regulation impedes commerce.

That's a ridiculous notion, but a right-winger is unable to see the facts that the half-century era of regulation in the United States is the era in which economic growth was the most amazing and led to American ingenuity unparalleled anywhere history.

The current right-leaning SCOTUS will ensure this continues.  The justices will make every effort to reverse any case based on findings that supported regulation.

While we gut regulation, I hope we will remember which Justices were in favor of regulation in the first place.  One of them was Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who, in the 1905 case, Lochner v New York,  said: "A Constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory."

It's sad to see that brilliant statement ignored.

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