As is now being widely reported, Congressman Ed Markey made this statement on Tuesday about the Citizens United ruling: “The Constitution must be amended. The Dred Scott decision had to be repealed; we have to repeal Citizens United.”
Congressman Markey is right. And, he is not the first to make this critical point. See this piece by Congresswoman Donna Edwards in the Boston Review:http://www.bostonreview.net/BR35.5/edwards.php.
Congresswoman Edwards wrote: “Citizens United will go down in history as one of the Supreme Court’s worst decisions — the Dred Scott of our time.”
Former Congressman Jim Leach made a similar statement in a piece published by the Boston Globe last year:
“Brazenly, in Citizens United, the court employed parallel logic to the syllogism embedded in the most repugnant ruling it ever made, the 1857 Dred Scott decision. To justify slavery, the court in Dred Scott defined a class of human beings as private property. To magnify corporate power a century and a half later, it defined a class of private property (corporations) as people.”
And, here is what the Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus said just a few weeks ago in an interview discussing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and posted on the Center for American Progress site:
“He would speak truth to power, and often make power uncomfortable. He was arrested numerous times. And it is important for the movement to remember that side of him, as we face all new challenges in the wake of Citizens United, which is the worst Supreme Court decision since Dred Scott.”
So, while the Boston Globe in today’s front page story finds critics of Markey’s statement, it ought to ask Edwards, Leach, Yearwood, and many others why they agree with the Congressman.
Dred Scott was a uniquely terrible decision that led to civil war. Lefties appropriately mocked right–wingers who declared that the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Obamacare was comparable to Dred Scott. We should not fall into the same trap.
We are all taught in civics that the Supreme Court checks other branches by ruling something unconstitutional, but the Court can itself be checked by making something constitutional through amendment. The latter has only actually happened a handful of times, which I believe you cited yourself on the Sense and Nonsense thread. Markey’s comments did not suggest the CU was substantively as evil as DS, only that the former needs to be overturned by amendment just as the latter was.
Of our 27 amendments, 7 of them overturned egregious Supreme Court rulings, including Dred Scott. We need to use our amendment power to do this again to defend our democracy.
Why did Markey choose Dred Scott instead of, say, Oregon v. Mitchell (overturned by the 26th amendment) to make his point? Because Dred Scott carries a lot of emotional and rhetorical force, that’s why. He may not have actually said “Citizens United is as bad as Dred Scott” – but neither did the right-wing lunatic who declared that the Obamacare decision was “the greatest destruction of individual liberty since Dred Scott.” See, he didn’t say it was actually as bad as Dred Scott, just that it was in 2nd place. So maybe the poor guy has been misinterpreted all along and we should cut him some slack.
Come on, folks. Markey was not making a purely technical and procedural point. He was making a substantive one as well. To pretend otherwise is, with all due respect, willful blindness because you like the guy and you agree with him with that Citizens United should be overruled.
…and does not compare to “we need a constitutional amendment to overturn that.” Markey didn’t use Oregon v. Mitchell because the vast majority, myself included, are not familiar with that case whereas the story of Dred Scott is more popularly known, probably in the top five of historic cases the average person on the street has a chance of naming.
Look at Markey’s follow-up statement:
Are you seriously maintaining that Markey is not trying to get people to think that Citizens United is not just as, or nearly as, “egregious” as Dred Scott? How else is one reasonably to interpret that comment?
I will say this again: “Markey was not making a purely technical and procedural point. He was making a substantive one as well. To pretend otherwise is, with all due respect, willful blindness because you like the guy and you agree with him with that Citizens United should be overruled.”
I really don’t think you need to act as though Markey invoked a variation of Godwin’s Law. The larger point is still that both decisions were harmful and justify overturning by amendment.
Actually, that’s a good way of describing precisely what he did. 🙂
Also, bravo for finally ridding yourself of IE and being able to use nested comments!
I just decided one day to try again for the heck of it and it worked.
I didn’t mean to +1 this. I disagree completely.