June 28th marked the end of the current session of the Supreme Court, during which the Court issued a number of decisions that attacked the basic rights of the American people. These decisions were described as representing a shift to the right produced by the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito (Washington Post, 2/29/07, page 6A), which changed the liberal/conservative ratio from 4/5 to 5/4. However, these appointments represented a qualitative change, a coup, and a step towards the open corporate control of the US. Consider the following:
Roberts and Alito Were Clear Choices of Corporate America: For the first time in history organizations such as the National Manufactures' Association (NMA) took public stands in support of Roberts' and Alito's nominations. NMA President John Engler described Roberts as someone who "understands the practical consequences of decisions for business" and Larry Kudlow wrote in the National Review, "John Roberts is right for growth and economy, a supreme pick for business." Samuel Alito was described as a judge who would decide business cases with sensitivity to the values of free markets and the problems firms face from litigation and regulation. (http://busmovie.typepad.com/ideoblog)
The Court Moved to Resegregate Public Schools: In the case of "Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1," the Court ruled against the voluntary integration plans in Seattle, Washington and Louisville, Kentucky. In the decision, the Court stated that a student's race cannot be used to assign a student to a school, even for the purpose of preventing resegregation. This decision reversed the 1954 Brown v Board of Education ruling that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal and that racial segregation was unconstitutional.
The difference in the two decisions lies in the changing needs of capital. In the 1950s capital was beginning to industrialize the South and segregated factories were inefficient. The Brown v Board of Education decision helped pave the way for integrated, low-wage, non-union production in the South. Today, the shift to production by robots is eliminating the need for any labor, except perhaps for slave labor. The Court's decision in "Parents v Seattle Schools" meets the current need of capital to resegregate the American people in order to attack the unity of the new developing class.
The Court Moved to Limit Free Speech: In "Morse v. Frederick," (the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case) the Court ruled that school officials can censor and punish student free speech even if the student's action did not disrupt school activities. This ruling overturned the 1969 "Tinkler v Des Moines Independent Community School District" ruling which held that a school "could not arbitrarily prohibit free speech under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
The decision in the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case reflects the shift from the expanding markets of the 1960s to today's contracting markets. In the 1960s, political protest was tolerated as part of a social bribe. In 2006, political protest cannot be tolerated. Although the Court framed their position as anti-drug, the decision can be used to effectively end all "unapproved" free speech in high schools and, by extension, in colleges as well as in any public arena.
The Way Forward: Since the 1950s, the populists have told us that what you lose in streets can be won in the courts, and that morality and justice are the foundations of the US court system. Their current goal is to "take back the Supreme Court" (NY Times 7/8/07). But morality and justice have nothing to do with the rulings of the Court and the Court of the past 50 years no longer exists. The current Court represents the new reality in the US and is a direct reflection of the growing economic crisis and pro-fascist movement. The response to the recent Court rulings is not to take back the Court, but rather to take back our country in order to build a co-operative