WASHINGTON – The big job waiting for the next class of legislators, and the new president, is to clean up the colossal mess the U.S. Supreme Court, under Chief Justice John Roberts, has made of our government, our society and institutions.
The calamity is created by three rulings of the Roberts court:
One decision offers hope to Albany’s arch fixer, convicted former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, that he will escape imprisonment for pay-to-play schemes, so rampant in the State Capitol.
Another high court ruling affirmed the mayhem created by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Last, there is the 2010 ruling basic to the corruption tearing at government at every level from the Assembly district to the federal presidency: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which has unleashed the greatest flood of dark political money since the days of President Richard M. Nixon.
Silver was supposed to go to jail in August, but his incarceration was put off because of the June decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the conviction on bribery charges of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, a Republican.
McDonnell’s conduct was notorious. He and his wife took at least $175,000 in loans and gifts and more from a businessman who wanted the Virginia government to conduct tests on a dietary supplement. The businessman got meetings with important state officials, and the Washington Post reported that he was even allowed to throw a luncheon for officials at the governor’s mansion and edit the guest list.
In his decision, Roberts acknowledged McDonnell’s behavior was “tasteless” but incredibly let McDonnell off anyway.
Why? William Falk, the top editor of The Week magazine, put it simply. Falk said the Roberts ruling was so twisted that McDonnell would have had to sign a paper saying, “I’m doing this because you gave me that” to be convicted for pay-to-play.
This terrible ruling has put in question many, if not all, of the pay-to-play investigations brought by federal prosecutor Preet Bharara. These include probes into Buffalo political figures and developers, and former state officials close to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
It also dilutes the worth of reported FBI looks into pay-to-play investigations in the Clinton charitable foundations. By the way, right-wing media are proposing that the FBI convene a grand jury to indict those connected to the foundations. The FBI can’t indict anyone. That process starts with the local federal prosecutor with the assent of the attorney general.
Last month, the Obama administration reported that Obamacare premiums would increase an average of 25 percent in coming weeks. Forget Obama’s promise that premiums would drop by 25 percent and that “you can keep you own doctor.”
Credit Roberts with these developments. He didn’t look at the clearly unconstitutional way Obamacare was passed – a 15-minute House vote stretched to three hours to arm-twist the one vote needed for passage.
Roberts and his court did not object to the House Democratic maneuver that declared that the House and Senate versions of the Obamacare bill, which were very different, were magically the same. By a voice vote in the House.
The Roberts court toyed instead with words and phrases, instead of sending the whole omelet back to Congress to do it right. As a result of the court’s stupidity and cowardice, the whole health care industry – a sixth of the economy – is in an uproar.
And with this, Roberts gave us the Citizens case converting free speech into secret unlimited campaign spending. It ruptured every relationship average people had with their government. This is the most destructive court in history.