The right can invent alternate political realities to their blackened hearts' content, but without judges to play their sly bad faith game, none of it matters. None of it has teeth.
This is why the right wing for the better part of a half century has been singularly focused on stacking the Supreme Court and circuit courts with political operatives, while centrist liberals and the left distracted themselves with culture war bullshit. The right's evil little plans, one after the other – piling atop each other like a Jenga structure that can never crumble – would shrivel on the vine without a green light from conservative activist judges foaming at the mouth to give the go-ahead to Republican policies steeped in bad faith.
From abortion rights to voting rights to taxes to the environment to guns, the American right is rolling back basic rights by deploying bad-faith arguments – ones they know not to be true, but must be true in order to achieve their goals. Abortion is murder, abortion is dangerous, the Founding Fathers never mentioned Planned Parenthood, their lawyers say. Our supercharged gerrymandering schemes are not racist because no one can prove we believe in the supremacy of the white race, they argue with stone-faced seriousness. Corporations can poison the water and air with no limitations because the Constitution doesn't say human beings have a right to drinkable water and breathable air, they charge.
This week Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, hatched in a Federalist Society lab to faithfully oversee the end of American democracy, sided with the court's far-right majority to further undo another campaign finance law. Roberts and his fellow conservatives legalized corruption and quid-pro-quo fuckery by ruling that a federal ban on outsiders repaying a political candidate's campaign loan violates the constitutional guarantee of free speech.
Congress had rightfully decided twenty years ago, before end-stage capitalism turned the Republican Party into the most dangerous entity on earth, that post-election contributions to candidates are "uniquely susceptible to corruption." Donors could not foot the (often massive) bill after the fact. No more, thanks to the Court's bad faith.
Free speech. It's always about free speech, which again has been weaponized by the right against American voters. The ability to buy politicians and instruct them on exactly what will and will not happen once they are in office is a First Amendment issue, according to Roberts. Plutocracy is free speech. "Influence and access," per Roberts, is a central tenant of free speech. His opinion in this case is perhaps the most compelling argument yet for destroying free speech in order to save it.
On a day when conservative media instructed its fear-sick consumers to get mad about congressional staffers receiving Peloton memberships, John Roberts ripped the intestines out of the nation's campaign finance law and ate them whole. Roberts' practiced disingenuousness is almost overwhelming, impossible to fully grasp.
The campaign finance case was brought by sniveling, amoral opportunist Senator Ted Cruz, who thought it was unfair that his corporate masters couldn't pay off his campaign debt. This SCOTUS ruling means that Cruz – whose continual presidential runs are the surest sign we have died and reside in hell – can win office and legally accept money from sources the public will never know about to avoid paying massive campaign debt accumulated in our mutually assured destruction campaign system.
Roberts argued that the Court's right wing had no choice but to side with Cruz because there's no way to prove quid-pro-quo – dirty little backroom agreements between a candidate and his monied backers ready and willing to pay down campaign debts in exchange for a seat in government, a lucrative government contract, or whatever other sordid offer the officeholder might have.
You and I know the inevitable results of this ruling. The Court's liberal justices know it. And infuriatingly, John Roberts and his crew of fascist goblins know it. We've seen the corruption that stems from campaign donors paying off candidate's debts, both in Ohio and Kentucky, where the quid pro quo arrangements were so nakedly corrupt that they inspired bipartisan efforts to fix the problem. Roberts has no problem covering his eyes, plugging his ears, and smiling the devil's smile while he intones that no one can prove his ruling will lead to vast, nation-altering corruption.
In a dissent that mourned the corrosion of America's last vestiges of democratic norms, Justice Elena Kagan pushed back on the ludicrous bad-faith argument that Cruz's case was about political speech and said the Court's ruling would plunge American democracy further into "disrepute."
"The loser is the public," Kagan wrote, as if it had ever been any other way.
There Is A Solution To This Fucking Horseshit
John Roberts' embrace of bad faith politics and his willingness to jam through the right's murder of democracy is going to kill us all. We are going headfirst into a blackhole from which we can never return.
Whatever campaign finance guardrails we had – and we did not have many – are now gone. It's all against all now. It's a Darwinian race to the bottom, to the death of the republic. The rules are dead. Ayn Rand's stinking corpse smiles.
Thankfully, there is a solution.
Expanding the Supreme Court, a move with much precedent, would effectively dilute the right's bad faith, their acceptance of lies as truth. It wouldn't matter that lifelong sex pest Clarance Thomas and drunken Brett Kavanaugh and Geriatric American Psycho Neil Gorsuch and Justice Serena Joy would rage and rage and rage about an expanded Court's rulings. Let them scream into the void until they're hoarse. They could try to greenlight every bad-faith Republican policy that hits the SCOTUS docket and it wouldn't matter if the Court had 11 or 13 or 15 justices, most of whom would act as jurists, not activists. The Court's right wing would be stripped of its power.
We are in the teeth of a national emergency. We are the frogs being boiled alive. The Roberts Court's decisions will one day come for you, and for me, and for those we love. You might not think so – "Man, that decision sucks for women, or gay folks, or immigrants" – but one day your life will be unrecognizable because the Supreme Court's right wing has carefully and intentionally transformed everyday life in the United States.
We are rapidly headed to a political landscape of total corruption, one that will not resemble a functioning democracy in any way. If Democrats acknowledged the Supreme Court is slowly but surely killing the country, they could act, and do what's necessary to crush the power of bad-faith conservatives dominating every aspect of government from top to bottom.
Democrats have two years to take drastic action, and no action could be more impactful than expanding the Court. Nothing, in the end, matters except for control of the Supreme Court. The moment the Court is expanded, the right's 50-year plan to make life unlivable for most Americans will fall to pieces. Their evil can be undone. It just takes courage and political will.
All we need now is an opposition party.
Follow Denny Carter on Twitter @CDCarter13 for maximum alienation.