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April 05, 2005

Why is the Left Defending the Courts?

My God, the whole Cornyn controversy is turning progressives into defenders of our court system. Let's look at the recent record:

  • Courts have put two million mostly poor, mostly non-white people in prison. Who gives a sh-- about Miranda rights or the ephemera of due process with a concrete result like that?
  • Courts have struck down affirmative action laws across the country, gutted the Violence Against Women Act, undermined the rights of the disabled, and generally weakened the rights of public employees against discrimination.
  • Courts have repeatedly weakened workers rights to form labor unions.
  • Courts have expanded property rights at the expense of democratic control of land use decisions, even overturning laws to help mineworkers pay for their retirement and health care in the name of protecting the profits of mineowners.

    And these are only some of the recent crimes of our court system.

    Taking the longer view, in the first century and a half of our country's history, the courts were an almost unmitigated tool of oppression, from protecting holders of debt against state laws to help out debtors to striking down measure after measure to protect the rights of workers.

    But the largest crime of our courts historically was their reactionary defense of slavery before the Civil War, as embodied in Dred Scott, then their destruction of Reconstruction in the 1870s. We fought a bloody war to end slavery and oppression, yet the courts stole that victory with a series of decisions that struck down civil rights laws and destroyed the right to vote for blacks in the south. With raw antidemocratic arrogance, the Supreme Court in the 1870s licensed mass murder and lynchings of black people as a tool to end Reconstruction.

    Almost all liberals are willfully blind on this bloody responsibility of the courts for sanctioning racial violence and inequality. The progressivism of the Warren Court was a complete aberration in our history, yet liberals defend courts as if most courts haven't been the worst bastions of racism and privilege throughout our history.

    Posted by Nathan at April 5, 2005 10:42 PM