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THOMPSON: America at risk of becoming world's most powerful dictatorship

March 18, 2024 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr spoke this truth. And when the U.S. Supreme Court causes that injustice, every man and woman is diminished.

Courts in the U.S., in general, and the U.S. Supreme Court, in particular, have suffered grievously at the hands of not only Donald Trump…but from an unlikely band of evangelicals, Right Wing conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, ultra-conservatives, anti-Democracy supporters…all of whom found a home in the Republican Party.

“No one is above the law” is a popular refrain in America…especially in recent years when Donald Trump has - more often than not - appeared to be an atmosphere away from the law. When people speak about law they are usually talking about something called the Rule of Law…which hinges on the concept that everyone must obey a nation’s laws.

Fundamentally, every individual in America - no matter how wealthy or powerful, no matter how poor or weak - is equally subject to the law. Sadly, it is more aspirational than reality…much like equality. If you have any doubts of this reality, simply ask just about any woman or any Black person living in America.

Americans by and large speak eloquently about concepts like justice and freedom and equality. These qualities actually define democracy…but today Americans find themselves on the precipice of authoritarian rule for the first time since King George III.

The folks south of the Canadian border are walking a tight rope when it comes to government…working arrogantly without a net. Unfortunately, this ragtag group of Republicans - whose numbers have grown explosively in the past 10 years - really want to see democracy fall from the tightrope.

Indeed, this hodgepodge of Right Wingers - who all claim to be free-thinking individuals - are busily jiggling the posts holding the tightrope…eagerly awaiting democracy’s death. How do we know? They have said it publicly…time and time again.

Consider for a moment how the U.S. Supreme Court is handling the myriad criminal issues and charges against former Republican President Donald Trump. It has long been said by legal scholars that justice delayed is justice denied. Courts - Supreme or otherwise - should never put a weighty thumb on the scales of justice…it undermines everyone’s faith in a system that is so very frail…but that is exactly what is happening.

The U.S. Supreme Court can move as quickly and with the agility of a cat…when it wants to…and more like a lazy hound dog when a case doesn’t suit it. Let’s examine the facts…which, as always, speak loudly for themselves.

The U.S. Supreme Court was quick to take up the case of Colorado’s Supreme Court throwing Trump off the state’s Republican primary ballot because of his actions and inactions during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Trump’s attorney’s asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case on Jan. 3…with oral arguments scheduled and completed on Feb. 3…and their decision supporting Trump was delivered on Feb. 5. This wasn’t as fast as the court’s lightning response in 2000 to the Bush v. Gore voting case in Florida…when it was asked to accept the case on Dec. 8, heard arguments on Dec. 10, and said re-counting of votes must end on Dec.12…when it awarded the presidency to George W. Bush.

What these court machinations have in common - and there are literally dozens more examples - is they moved quickly because Republicans needed a helping hand…and they got it.

Now, let’s look at situations where the court moved more like that lazy hound dog. The U.S. Supreme Court passed on hearing Trump’s claim of absolute immunity two months ago…saying it was a matter for lower courts. Then, after those courts ruled against Trump, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear it after all…but not with any deliberate speed.

Instead, they waited two weeks to respond to Trump’s request to hear the case…then scheduled oral arguments for seven weeks later…in mid-April. The decision will come some time after that…and you can bet it won’t be prompt. So, the cat-like court…becomes a lazy hound. The delay, of course, is just what Trump wants.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings and ethics over the past 25 years have been suspect…and that’s being charitable. A lot of Americans - mostly Republicans - don’t want to admit that the U.S. Supreme Court is tainted with partisan justices.

Again, the evidence is clear. Justices Gorsuch, Thomas, Kavanaugh and Alito - all conservative, Right Wing appointments by Republican presidents - have done things that get lower court judges impeached. Of course, only U.S. Supreme Court justices have no code of ethics…they have proven in recent years to be self-policing…and doing a poor job of it.

Republicans Donald Trump and George W. Bush - two of the worst presidents in U.S. history - appointed five of the nine justices during the last 19 years. The justices have returned the favour…issuing decisions counter to what the majority of Americans support. It should surprise no one that public opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court suffers.

More Americans have an unfavourable view of the court than at anytime in the past 40 years…while those with a favourable view is at a corresponding low point. Why? The ethical issues and blatant partisanship notwithstanding…the court’s decisions simply don’t reflect America.

Conservative, Right-Wing justices have shoehorned a series of high-profile rulings on such issues as affirmative action, LGBTQ rights, student loans and abortion rights…going against what most Americans see as fair and just.

But Republicans other than presidents have proved disappointing. Remember Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell…denying President Obama the opportunity to name a justice 9 months before election day in 2016…but insisting Trump had the right to name a justice two months before election day in 2020, after Ruth Bader Ginsburg died.

Americans - and by that I mean Democrats because Republicans seem a lost cause - better not depend on institutions they used to honour and respect…not Congress…not the U.S. Supreme Court…not the Justice Department or F.B.I.

This isn’t a movie…the cavalry isn’t going to come thundering over the horizon to save America. If Americans care at all…they better vote out of office those who with glee look forward to America becoming the world’s most powerful dictatorship.

America’s biggest threat today comes from within, from a political party that has abandoned American principles of democracy. In less than eight months…America and the world will be either a much better or much worse nation. It all comes down to who votes.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines.


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