I Pledge Allegiance OR I Dissent!

Years ago, we began every day of grade school by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.  Today, at my son’s school, they begin every day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.  Every Scout meeting begins the same way.  We say the pledge thousands of times, but rarely stop to think about what we’re saying—and almost never do we question whether we ought to be saying it.

I suggest the thinking behind the Pledge—or rather, the lack of thinking—is downright dangerous and can undermine what our Founding Fathers wanted to accomplish.

Our Founding Fathers understood that power corrupts and bad people often get into positions of power. So they built a system of government that distributes power in an effort to protect us against tyranny. And what better way to protect ourselves against tyranny than to raise thoughtful, informed children who pay attention to what our leaders are doing–and question whether they ought to be doing those things?

Two dollars backside

Who ever thought it was a good idea to teach our children to pledge allegiance to a flag? It’s just a piece of cloth. Any idiot, any two-bit crook, any manipulator, any warmonger can buy–or steal—one. When they wave it in our faces, we are obligated to follow them wherever they lead—if we have been taught to follow the flag, instead of following our principles and our conscience and using our brains.

Over the years, people following the flag have sometimes found themselves doing some downright ugly things.

Soldiers followed the flag to Wounded Knee, where they shot down 300 mostly unarmed Lakotas: men women and children alike, as part of the campaign of genocide that practically wiped out the Native Americans.

Men of the South followed the Confederate flag to Gettysburg and Antietam, waging a bloody, ghastly war against their own countrymen. And the reason the war started was to protect Simon Legree’s right to whip, rape, and even kill the human beings he considered to be his property.

More recently, we have followed the flag to Hiroshima and Nagasaki where we needlessly unleashed nuclear horror on a nation that was already on the point of surrender.

We’ve followed it to Vietnam and dropped napalm on children…to Iraq where destroyed a nation for reasons our President never saw fit to share with us—at least not the real reasons… and to the torture chambers of Abu Ghraib, where we disgusted the world with our cruelty and brazen disregard for treaties and international law.

Teaching children about the principles of our Founding Fathers  Shouldn’t we instead be doing deep teaching with our children about the principles upon which this nation was founded and have them pledge allegiance to those?

  • All men are created equal and they have inalienable, God given rights—maybe even if they live in the Middle East.
  • They should be well versed in the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment and understand how it is designed to protect us from the excesses of government.
  • They should know that our Founding Fathers did not intend for this nation to be a Christian nation or an atheistic one, but rather, a place in which we are all free to worship—or not—in whatever way we see fit.
  • Our Founding Fathers wanted the United States to be a land of opportunity, not a state lorded over by an oppressive aristocracy. They most certainly did not believe that “corporations are people, my friend.”  They did recognize the threat corporate power poses to the government they were trying to create—and tried to keep corporations on a short leash.
  • They should know that our Founding Fathers were appalled by the constant war the European powers engaged in and they wanted America to be different. Thomas Jefferson said our nation should have “peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none.”  James Madison felt so strongly about this that he didn’t even want a standing army.

How far the other way my country’s gone.

American grunge flag. Vector illustration.

The Duty to Dissent  Having taught our children those principles, shouldn’t we also teach them that when those principles are violated, not only do they have a right to dissent, but it is a duty to dissent?

When the NSA spits on the Bill of Rights by spying on all of us with no search warrants and no probable cause, and our president believes he has the right to assassinate people without even a trial, do you want your children to be pledging allegiance—or do you want them to be screaming, “I dissent!”?

When the military-industrial complex gets a blank check year after year after year, while millions are suffering from unemployment, hunger, and homelessness; our infrastructure is crumbling; our schools are an international embarrassment; and our health care system is failing most of us—do you want your children to be pledging allegiance to that—or do you want them screaming, “I dissent!”?

Government at all levels is going broke while many Fortune 500 companies pay zero income tax and Warren Buffett’s cleaning lady pays a higher tax rate than he does. I Dissent!

Massive campaign contributions from the oppressive American aristocracy has so corrupted our political system that our elected officials don’t even pretend to give a damn about the rest of us any more.  I dissent!

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are rotting in prison on minor drug charges, while the Wall Street bankers, who stole billions and destabilized our economy, aren’t even prosecuted. I dissent!

Corporate lackeys on the US Supreme Court have yanked we the people from the drivers’ seat, locked us in the trunk, and given the keys to the executives said Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, and Exxon. I dissent!

The nation the world once looked upon as a beacon of freedom has become an international bully, overthrowing democratically-elected leaders and installing murderous puppets of the multinational corporations.  I dissent!


Back when the pledge was first introduced, Americans didn’t hold their hands over their hearts like we do today, but rather, saluted the flag by doing this:

pledge of allegiance salute

We stopped this salute when a certain German dictator with a funny mustache decided to adopt that same salute in his country. We all know what happened when people decided to follow the Nazi flag instead of following their principles, their consciences, and using their brains. We should have learned an important lesson from Nazi Germany about the dangers of confusing love of country with blind patriotism, yet here we are, still teaching our kids to pledge allegiance to a flag. Plus, since the time of Hitler, we’ve even added the words, “one nation under God,” to not so subtly suggest to the kids that God Almighty approves of whatever it is our leaders are up to.

Let’s stop teaching blind allegiance to what America has become, and instead, teach them to thoughtfully pledge allegiance to the way it was supposed to be.  And let’s be sure to teach them to scream I dissent!


GOP’s Sorry History Of Bigotry

The GOP bigwigs are in a snit about Donald Trump. They’re gunning for him, deploring his divisiveness. House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party…they must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on people’s prejudices.” Such a noble sentiment—and so contrary to fact.

Republicans hope for Rip Van Winkle   In fact, the Republicans have been preying on peRip van winkle resizedople’s prejudices for decades. But they are hoping that many of us are too young to remember—and the rest will be like Rip Van Winkle, waking up from a decades-long political nap, unaware of the profound realignment in American politics that occurred over fifty years ago.

TRUE! The Republicans WERE the party of Lincoln    Yes, the Republicans were once the party of Abraham Lincoln. For years after the Civil War, the Republicans were staunch allies of the newly-freed blacks. It is also true that the Democrats were once the party of the Ku Klux Klan. But with the Civil Rights movement came a profound realignment in American politics.

Lyndon Johnson: We have lost the South   As blacks integrated schools, defied bus segregation laws, sat in at lunch counters, registered to vote, and marched on Washington, the South was in an uproar. When the Kennedy/Johnson Administration advanced civil rights legislation, Southerners went berzerk. As he signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Lyndon Johnson famously—and prophetically—said, “We have lost the South for a generation.” Only it wasn’t just a generation. The formerly solid Democratic South has remained the solid Republican South to this day.

1964 GOP Convention: A Bitter Struggle for Control   The 1964 Republican Convention was a bitter battle for the soul of the Republican Party. At the time, there were “moderate” and even “liberal” Republicans. The Convention pitted Nelson Rockefeller and his views of racial tolerance and support for poverty programs against conservative Barry Goldwater who opposed civil rights legislation and wanted to repeal most of the New Deal and the Great Society. Goldwater forces booed Rockefeller, insulted and shoved blacks and television reporters, and Goldwater delegates even put out their cigarettes on the suit of an elderly black Republican.

Feeling like a Jew in Hitler’s Germany Baseball great Jackie Robinson, invited to the Convention by the office of Nelson Rockefeller, left horrified. Robinson said,

That convention was one of the most unforgettable and frightening experiences of my life. The hatred I saw was unique to me because it was hatred directed against a white man [Rockefeller]. It embodied a revulsion for all he stood for, including his enlightened attitude toward black people…A new breed of Republicans had taken over the GOP. As I watched this steamroller operation in San Francisco, I had a better understanding of how it must have felt to be a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.

Who can forget the startling image of Rockefeller, years later, exasperated with these racist extremists who had taken over his party, giving the finger to a crowd of hecklers?

Wedding of KKK and the Radical Right  Martin Luther King commented:

The Republican Party geared its appeal and program to racism, reaction, and extremism. All people of goodwill viewed with alarm and concern the frenzied wedding…of the KKK with the radical right. The “best man” at this ceremony was a senator whose voting record, philosophy, and program were anathema to all the hard-won achievements of the past decade.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

Nixon’s Southern Strategy
As bad as 1964 was, it was only to get worse in the GOP. Richard Nixon cynically played white racists with his Southern strategy, as Kevin Phillips, Nixon’s senior strategist explained:

From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that…but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.

Nixon’s War on African Americans and Hippies
Nixon launched the “War on Drugs,” but according to Nixon’s Assistant for Domestic Affairs, John Erlichman, drugs weren’t the real target. In an interview for a story in Harper’s Magazine, Erlichman confessed:

The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.

Reagan Vows to Restore “States’ Rights”  Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan picked an ideal place to come out in favor of restoring “states’ rights,” the banner of the Confederacy. Reagan spoke at the Neshoba County Fair, near Philadelphia, Mississippi. That’s the town where three civil rights workers disappeared in 1964 and later were found murdered. Reagan promised to “restore to states and local governments the power that properly belongs to them.”

Confederate flag

Incarceration Soars Under Reagan   Reagan pursued Nixon’s “War on Drugs” zealously. During his presidency, rates of incarceration skyrocketed, mostly due to the drug war. The number of people behind bars for nonviolent drug law offenses increased from 50,000 in 1980 to over 400,000 by 1997.

The Gipper Enraged Whites With Stories of a “Welfare Queen”  Reagan loved to tell stories of a “welfare queen” who ripped off the government for $157,000 per year. According to Reagan, she applied for welfare in 14 states, using 127 different names. Her loot included food stamps, Social Security, and Veterans’ benefits for non-existent husbands. It seems this woman actually did exist, and she was a big-time con artist who committed lots of other crimes Reagan chose not to mention. The intent, of course, was to create an inaccurate and detestable image in the mind of working-class whites: lazy blacks taking their hard-earned money.

Bush Scares America With Willie Horton  In 1988, George H.W. Bush faced Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis in the race to succeed Ronald Reagan. Bush ran the infamous Willie Horton ads to stir up fear of crime among white voters. Horton, an African American serving a life sentence for murder, had been released on a weekend furlough program started, not by Dukakis, but by his predecessor. Horton failed to return from furlough and committed a number of crimes, including armed robbery and rape. Besides lurid TV ads, Bush harped on Horton in numerous campaign speeches. Bush’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater, said: “By the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’s running mate.” The GOP succeeded in associating “crime” with blacks and Dukakis painted as soft on crime.

Bush at Bob Jones University
A few years later, George W. Bush was battling a tough challenge from Senator John McCain for the GOP nomination. Bush’s back was to the wall as he went into the South Carolina primary and his campaign decided to go negative. He made a campaign stop at Christian-fundamentalist Bob Jones University, which still banned interracial dating. According to Richard Gooding, writing in Vanity Fair, veteran political reporter Curtis Wilkie said, “He (Bush) might as well have gone to a goddamned Klan rally” as go to B.J.U.

John McCain’s “Love Child”
Bush also played dirty tricks on McCain. The Bush campaign conducted a fake poll in which voters were asked, “Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain…if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?” Actually, McCain had adopted a dark-skinned girl from Bangladesh. Bush also sent out an email from Richard Hand, a professor of the Bible at Bob Jones University, alleging that “McCain chose to sire children without marriage.”

Removing People of Color From the Voter Lists
Later, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, scrubbed the voter lists, removing nearly 100,000 people they wrongly claimed were convicted felons and thus unable to vote. Most of them were people of color. In the 2004 election, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell also contributed to Bush’s victory by making working voting machines scarce in African-American neighborhoods. The Democrats didn’t protest much. (See separate article in Democrats’ apparent duplicity in GOP vote suppression).

Bush fans the flames of fear of terrorists.  Bush’s entire Presidency was based on keeping Americans fearful of terrorists—and not the white-skinned Christian terrorists like Timothy McVeigh who had bombed a federal building in Oklahoma. Bush and his appointees never missed an opportunity to warn us of the danger.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, in a March 25, 2007 opinion piece in the Washington Post, “ Terrorized by ‘War on Terror’ pointed out that government at every level and the mass media created a climate of paranoia.

The “war on terror” has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration’s elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America’s psyche and on U.S. standing in the world…. Hence the proliferation of programs with bearded “terrorists” as the central villains. Their general effect is to reinforce the sense of the unknown but lurking danger that is said to increasingly threaten the lives of all Americans…The damage these three words have done — a classic self-inflicted wound — is infinitely greater than any wild dreams entertained by the fanatical perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks when they were plotting against us in distant Afghan caves. The phrase itself is meaningless. It defines neither a geographic context nor our presumed enemies. Terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare — political intimidation through the killing of unarmed non-combatants. But the little secret here may be that the vagueness of the phrase was deliberately (or instinctively) calculated by its sponsors.

Obama hatred and obstructionism  With the election of Barack Obama, the Republicans went crazy. They have refused to cooperate with him in any way, despite Obama’s many attempts to collaborate. They have denied that he is a legitimate American citizen, referred to him by his middle name “Hussein” to link him with Saddam Hussein, screamed that he was a “liar” during a State of the Union Address, and accused him of fanning the flames of racism every time he mades a thoughtful statement about race.

It has been a long and very ugly fifty years. The GOP’s attempts to deny their linkage with racism are downright ludicrous to anyone with a knowledge of history.


Socialists Rule US City (gasp!)

Years ago at summer camp, a counselor scared us into silence at bedtime by telling us about a man who came out of the swamp at night to kill loud children. It worked!

Just like our twisted counselor, America’s elites know that fear is a powerful tool to keep people in line. For decades, they have been teaching Americans to fear Socialism. But they don’t want you to know what happened when an American city voted in the Socialists–again and again and again, for 50 years!

Caution - Socialism Ahead

Campaign of fear
They’ve told us that Socialism has failed everywhere it’s been tried and sought to link Socialism with the gulags of Josef Stalin. Some on the right wing have even claimed (wrongly) that the Nazis were Socialist because the word “Socialist” is part of the party name. But the fact is that Nazis arrested and killed Socialists

Ronald Reagan, quipped, “Socialism only works in two places: heaven where they don’t need it and hell where they already have it.” The Gipper was apparently unaware that Biblical descriptions of early Christian communities sound quite Socialist [see the book of Acts].

Most recently, Republican Presidential candidates have warned us in dire tones about its dangers. They have heaped scorn on the Democrats, especially Bernie Sanders, the self-described Democratic Socialist. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has become the most recent object of their scorn.

Would you vote for a Socialist?
The success of their propaganda is demonstrated by a June 2015 Gallup poll that showed 50 percent of Americans said they would not vote to elect a Socialist President if their party nominated one; only 47 percent said they would.

But Socialist programs are popular
Of course, all this ignores the obvious: some of America’s most popular government programs are Socialist. Social Security and Medicare are just two. There is also a not-so-obvious fact: Socialists took over an American city–and governed it for decades. No fooling.

Socialism vs. Reaganomics
Socialism stands in staunch opposition to the ideas of Ronald Reagan who famously said, “Government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.” [Some have commented acidly that Reagan and his Administration spent eight years trying to prove Reagan right].  Socialists, on the other hand, see government as a vehicle for greatly improving the lives of the people by doing things the private sector can’t–or won’t–do well. Public libraries, public health, and public education are a few examples.

So what happened when the Socialists took power?
John Nichols, tells the remarkable story in his book, The “S” Word : a Short History of an American Tradition–Socialism. Around the turn of the century, the city of Milwaukee was led by a city government whose corruption was on par with the city of Chicago. But unlike Chicago, the people of Milwaukee threw the crooks out on their ears.

In 1910, the disgusted voters ousted Mayor David Rose and elected Socialist Emil Seidel and a Socialist majority to the city council. For most of the next 50 years, the Socialists controlled the city government.

Contrast Mayor Seidel’s aspirations for the people with what you hear from most of today’s candidates, who promise more military spending, cuts in social programs, still more tax cuts for the wealthy, and persecution of immigrants. Mayor Seidel said,

“We wanted our workers to have pure air, we wanted them to have sunshine, we wanted planned homes, we wanted them to have living wages, we wanted recreation for young and old, we wanted vocational education, we wanted a chance for every human being to be strong and live a life of happiness. And we wanted everything that was necessary to give them that: playgrounds, parks, lakes, beaches, clean creeks and rivers, swimming and wading pools, social centers, reading rooms, clean fun, music, dance, song and joy for all.”

Socialists delivered
Once in power, the Socialists actually delivered on their promises, rooting out corruption and ushering in an era of clean, caring government. Using the power of government to make the city a better place to live and work, they built an impressive network of public parks, public libraries, and public schools. They raised the wages of city workers. The Milwaukee police department came to be recognized as the nation’s best for honesty and public service.

Leadership in Public Health
Milwaukee’s Socialist government was passionate about protecting public health. Since public water supplies were often a health hazard due to uncontrolled dumping of sewage in the rivers, the Socialists constructed sewers. They developed food safety initiatives and undertook mass immunizations.  Their public health programs attracted national attention and became models for other cities and the national government. In fact, Milwaukee so regularly won national awards for their public health programs that competitions began to exclude Milwaukee so as to give other cities a chance to win.

Fiscal Responsibility
Of course, we’ve been trained to think that all the “free stuff” the Socialists give away drives governments to the poor house. But the opposite was true. Despite the many undertakings that vastly improved the quality of life, Milwaukee’s Socialists gained recognition as the nation’s most fiscally-sound city. In 1936, Time Magazine named Milwaukee the best-governed city in the United States. Voters enthusiastically returned them to office again and again for most of a fifty-year period.

As a side note, I mention that although I grew up in Milwaukee, no teacher ever mentioned that Socialists once ran our city–let alone discussing their accomplishments. Nor was it ever mentioned in any of my Political Science classes at the University of Wisconsin.

Despite their great success in Milwaukee, Socialism didn’t spread to other cities. Ultimately, the Socialists lost popularity due to red-baiting campaigns that questioned their patriotism and because both Democrats and Republicans ate into their base by adopting many Socialist ideas.

Reaganomics seemingly banished it forever. The right-wing succeeded in turning Socialism into a dirty word.

Devastation of Reaganomics
But after decades of Reaganomics, many Americans have re-examined Socialism. Ironically, though Reagan slashed many of the social programs he considered wasteful in his alleged zeal to balance the budget, his Administration ran up record deficits due to the three-legged stool of Reaganomics: militarism, deregulation/bailout, and tax cuts. This resulted in a massive redistribution of wealth, as the American aristocracy mugged the poor and the middle class.

Reaganomics, practiced ever since by both Republicans and Democrats, has devastated the middle class. The Census Bureau tells us that 46.7 million Americans, or 14.8% of the nation, are now living below the poverty line. Not by coincidence, the number of billionaires has skyrocketed, going from just 15 in 1984 to 560 today.

Reaganomics and free reign capitalism got us into this mess of poverty, joblessness, and income inequality; perhaps Socialism can show us the way out.



Scalia & The Fraud of Originalism

Two dollars backside      In death as in life,  Justice Antonin Scalia is the object of news media adulation. The media called him “a lion of the Constitution” and a staunch Originalist, steadfast in interpreting the Constitution just the way our Founding Fathers intended.

Media Fails to Ask Questions
But when the media uncritically accepts Scalia’s claim to being an “Originalist,” it fails to ask some important questions:

  1. While many of us struggle to understand the intentions of our spouse in our daily interactions, how is it possible that Originalists can claim a monopoly on understanding the intent of men who died over two hundred years ago?
  2. Since the Founding Fathers were bitterly divided on many issues, including whether the nation would be an aristocracy or a democracy and whether blacks were humans or beasts, with which faction did Scalia and the Originalists identify?
  3. Is it desirable–or even possible–to decide today’s issues through the mindset of men who lived in an agrarian society in which women were chattel, guns were single-shot muskets, mammoth corporations didn’t exist, and slaves were whipped and raped at the whim of their masters?
  4.  Scalia voted with the majority in decisions that many legal scholars consider among the worst in the Supreme Court’s history [e.g., Bush v. Gore and Citizens United]. Does that not undermine his claim to the sometimes-mythological wisdom and nobility of our Founding Fathers?

Our Founding Fathers didn’t love corporations like Scalia did.
Scalia’s claim to being an Originalist is immediately rendered nonsensical by his adherence to the doctrine that corporations are people. The word “corporation” doesn’t even appear in the Constitution. Further, since the American Revolution started partly due to outrage over an alliance between the crown and the British East India Company, our Founding Fathers generally distrusted corporations and tried to keep them on a short leash. Corporations were granted time-limited charters and only allowed to exist if they served the common good. Over the years, these limitations were peeled back, not by the President and Congress, but by activist conservative Supreme Court Justices.

Corporations become People
Corporate personhood originated long after the deaths of our Founding Fathers. It first appeared in the 1886 case of Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific —eighteen years after ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment upon which corporate personhood is allegedly based. Even then, it wasn’t because of a decision of the Supreme Court, Instead, a former railroad executive employed by the Court sneaked it into head-notes, a summary of the decision. http://tinyurl.com/jv38cvd

Rights of Corporations Win Over Rights of Human Beings
A true Originalist would reject corporate personhood and demand a return to tight regulation of corporations. Instead, self-proclaimed Originalists have shown far more concern for corporate rights than for the rights of we the people. Geoffrey Stone, law professor at the University of Chicago, in an article on the First Amendment, leveled this criticism at Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Since these justices were such close allies, this criticism can also be applied to Scalia.

“Not only was he the justice least likely to protect these (individual) freedoms, but his general passivity toward these freedoms cannot be defended as principled, coherent or neutral. When all was said and done, Rehnquist’s First Amendment belonged to corporations, wealthy political candidates, and churches.”  http://tinyurl.com/jcyyd7x

Corporate Control of Our Elections
The most infamous case of corporate personhood was the 2010 Citizens United decision in which a 5-4 majority ruled judge puppetthat government may not limit political spending by corporations in candidate elections. Their concern for corporate “free speech” rights–their term for limitless, thinly-veiled bribes given in the form of campaign contributions—trumped their concern for democracy and the integrity of our elections.

The four dissenting Justices argued that a flood of corporate money would corrupt democracy. And so it did. When the Brennan Center for Justice analyzed the 2014 Senate races, they found outside spending more than doubled since 2010, to $486 million, with outside groups providing 47 percent of total spending in 10 competitive races.

Fourth Amendment Thrown Out to Wage War on Drugs
The truth is that “Originalists” read the Constitution very narrowly (or ignore it altogether) when it comes to rights of the average person, but give very expansive interpretation when it comes to the rights of wealthy people and corporations.

Despite their reverence for corporate First Amendment rights, Scalia and his Originalist cohorts didn’t hesitate to shred the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure to facilitate the GOP’s “War on Drugs.” In her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander charges that although drugs are used fairly equally by people of all races, Republicans aimed their drug war squarely at minorities.

Ms. Alexander eloquently documents that extreme discrimination in the enforcement of drug laws has helped bring about mass incarceration of people of color, often for minor offenses. Scalia and his allies repeatedly backed police in invasive searches for drugs, leading some commentators to charge that they had created a “drug exception” to the Fourth Amendment. Again, so much for his adherence to “Originalism.” Many ruined lives and decimated communities of color are part of Scalia’s legacy.

You’re Innocent? Too Damn Bad!
Scalia’s lack of concern for the rights of ordinary people extended even to the inalienable right to life itself. His indifference to wrongful convictions has undoubtedly paved the way forGiudice - graffiti the execution of many innocent people. In the 1993 case of Herrera v. Collins, the Court refused an appeal from a man convicted of murder who sought reconsideration of his conviction based on new evidence.

Scalia wrote, “There is no basis in text, tradition, or even in contemporary practice, for finding in the Constitution a right to demand judicial consideration of newly-discovered evidence of innocence brought forward after conviction.”

Likewise, Scalia refused to consider new evidence that might have overturned the conviction of Anthony Davis and spared him from execution. Scalia said, “This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial, but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is actually innocent.” Of course, it is utterly absurd that the Constitution would anticipate and delve into such specifics. That’s why we have judges.

No Need to Protect Voting Rights
Scalia and his Originalist friend, Clarence Thomas, both voted with the majority in refusing to protect the voting rights granted by the Fifteenth Amendment. But then, Founding Fathers from slaveholding states like Georgia and the Carolinas would undoubtedly have approved. In 2013, Scalia joined the majority in essentially gutting the Voting Rights Act in the case of Shelby County v. Holder. The majority opinion said, “While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions … The conditions that originally justified these measures no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions.”  Racial discrimination was at an end, according to the majority. They did this, knowing that racists in a number of states had vote suppression legislation ready, awaiting the green light from the Supreme Court.

This see-no-evil decision set off a flurry of activity in restricting voting rights. By 2014, voters in 22 states faced tougher voting restrictions than in the last midterms. These changes include voter ID requirements, cutbacks to early voting and voter registration opportunities, and other changes to voting rules. Many critics charge that these changes are deliberately aimed at making voting more difficult for minorities, seniors, and students—key Democratic constituencies.

Further, this decision came after two hotly-disputed Presidential elections. An investigation by the British Broadcasting Company concluded that the 2000 election was stolen in Florida when minions of Governor Jeb Bush illegally “scrubbed” voter lists to deny tens of thousands, perhaps as many as 100,000, of mostly-African American voters their Constitutional right. The Federal Elections Commission, concurred, saying that “countless” Florida residents were denied the right to vote and this disenfranchisement fell most harshly on the shoulders of African Americans. Bush “won” Florida, and therefore, the Presidency, by only a few hundred votes.

In the 2004 election, national exit polls showed that John Kerry had won the election, but vote tallies showed Bush the winner. Exit polls are considered to be so accurate that they are used to detect election fraud. Throughout the nation, odd events suggested an orchestrated effort to swing the election to Bush. Just one is the infamous images of African Americans in Ohio, standing in the rain for hours, waiting to vote in polling places with insufficient and even broken voting machines.

In both elections, the key to Bush’s “victory” was winning a state in which the state official entrusted with ensuring a fair election was also Bush’s campaign chair (Kathrine Harris in Florida in 2000 and Ken Blackwell in Ohio in 2004)–a mind-exploding conflict of interest. Still, the Supreme Court said discrimination was a thing of the past.

Supreme Court Invents Reason to Make Bush President
Justice Scalia should know about those elections, since he was a key player in the Supreme Court’s unwarranted intrusion into the 2000 Presidential campaign. Legal scholars and ordinary citizens alike have turned up their noses at the brazen partisanship of the Republican majority, who stopped the vote recount in the state of Florida, claiming it could do irreparable harm to G.W. Bush.

The majority expressed no concern whatsoever for harm done to Al Gore or to the voters, who ought to have a right to an honest election. Justice Scalia made clear the Court acted to prevent Bush from falling behind in the tally, thus raising questions about his legitimacy should the Supreme Court later declare him the winner.

One scholar noted that the ultimate test of a fair judicial decision and fair judges is whether the ruling would have been the same if the positions of the parties were to be reversed. Undeniably, the five Republican Justices would not have intervened on behalf of Al Gore were he in Bush’s position. The majority also said (bizarrely) this ruling should not be used as a precedent, though creating precedent is the Court’s job.

When challenged about Bush v. Gore, Scalia was unable to intelligently defend the decision, and responded with a childish, “Get over it!” Apparently, Scalia thought we the people should not concern ourselves with the integrity of our elections and the legitimacy of our President.

While it is impossible to know what would have happened if Gore had become President, it is fairly certain he would not have appointed conservatives John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Court. Scalia’s intrusion into the election preserved the 5-4 conservative majority that has displayed such contempt for the rule of law.

Gay Marriage–a Judicial Putsch.
In the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, which legitimized gay marriage, Scalia wrote a scathing dissent. He referred to it a “judicial Putsch” that poses a “threat to American democracy.”

Incredibly, after all the 5-4 decisions in which Scalia and his conservative cohorts inflicted the will of the minority on the American people, Scalia threw a tantrum when this decision didn’t go his way. He actually challenged the very legitimacy of the Court, noting, “the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America … A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”

Maybe Scalia got one thing right. Rulings by five unelected lawyers in particular have done much to make America a nation that does not deserve to be called a democracy.