Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) spoke about the “corporate capture of the federal courts,” becoming the highest profile elected official to make such a statement. Speaking at the first day of the AFL-CIO convention, Warren spoke on a wide range of populist topics, but her most striking attack was on the Supreme Court:
“You follow this pro-corporate trend to its logical conclusion, and sooner or later you’ll end up with a Supreme Court that functions as a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Business,” said Warren to a big applause.
Warren doesn’t include the four more liberal justices in that trend (Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer, Ginsburg).
How would the Supreme Court, with its lifelong appointments, be captured by corporate interests, as Warren contends? The Supreme Court is picked by the President (as are other federal judges) and confirmed by the Senate. More and more, the House, Senate and President are beholden to corporate interests, and as gatekeepers, they can shape the courts toward favoring a corporate agenda.
This is the rotten core in all of American politics right now, and Elizabeth Warren is one of the only elected officials making any noise about it. Barack Obama spoke often about reigning in the power of lobbyists as a candidate for President, but has not done anything about it as President. His first Republican opponent, John McCain, co-authored one of the most important pieces of campaign finance legislation—McCain-Feingold—but he has mostly given up the cause. Warren and McCain have worked together on another sorely needed piece of legislation, the “New Glass-Steagall Act,” which makes it harder for big banks to gamble away your money. This bill is unlikely to go anywhere, because too many senators on both sides don’t want to do anything that would upset the big banks.
We don’t need every politician to be as liberal as Elizabeth Warren, but we do need more like Warren who are willing to speak truth to power, and right now the power is held by the big banks and the richest corporations.
Or, as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said of Warren after her speech, “Ah, if we could only clone her.”