Blog # 156 A CANDID CONVERSATION

We have always maintained a consistent, idealistic and optimistic inclination regarding the future of our nation and ourselves, as its citizens. Most especially was this true during the period of our undergraduate and graduate years. Great energy (and some naiveté) fueled our hopes and expectations of a nation and world which exemplified our aspirations for peace and economic justice.

 

We have always been grateful for having been born in this country with its successful balancing of liberty with democracy, and where (at least after F.D.R.) programs of government responsibility to assist the needy and to oversee the safety and health of our country, were established.

The theme and design constituting the competent architecture of our government is, functionally and legally, described as “the separation of powers,” pursuant to which the three operating branches of government, executive, legislative and judicial are given specifically designated and circumscribed boundaries of authority and function; such separation to be enforced through the Supreme Court

In our undergraduate studies it so happened that the classic French satirical play, “Candide,” was assigned in two classes, French Language and European Literature. In this play by Voltaire, the main character, Candide, imbued by his professor with the philosophy that everything always happens for the best, nevertheless consistently encounters injustice, tragedy and disappointment; this is the basis for his (Voltaire’s) ultimate sermon on life, “Stay home and plant your own garden.”

As young idealists and consummate optimists, with rosy predictions of a better world, we were greatly shocked and disappointed by such literary advice, and wondered at the celebrated status which the dons of literature and philosophy customarily accord to M. Voltaire.

As fate would have it, following decades of steadfast adherence to an earnest belief in the optimistic future of our nation, politically and sociologically, we were confronted with two confusing and disheartening developments which severely challenged our erstwhile assumptions; they were the happening of (1) The Citizen’s United Case, and, (2) the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency.

  • {The Citizen’s United Case}. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has the authority and the vital responsibility to enforce the nation’s rule of law, as enunciated in the U.S. Constitution; among the most basic legal principles is the constitutionally mandated “Separation of Powers,” a foundational principle in the functioning of our democratic form of governance.

In the Citizen’s United case, SCOTUS ruled that a corporation was a “person” and as such has the right of free speech, inclusive of the right to donate desired sums of money to a candidate.

Every law school freshman can tell you that a “corporation” is a mere legal fiction, created to limit the liability of entrepreneurs; thus it can be a party to a contract, a named plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit and is, to that limited extent, a “person”, but only for this commercial purpose; It is clearly not a natural, or real, person with constitutional or any other rights.

The inarguable assumption is that if a law school freshman knows this, SCOTUS does, perforce

More shocking is the knowledge that, as strictly limited by Federal Procedural Statute, no case can legally be brought, to SCOTUS which contains a political issue, however minor or indirect. For this purpose a litigant has, since the establishment of SCOTUS, been initially required to file a preliminary, but decisive, petition to prove that the issue in his case has no political ramifications.   This strict, “black letter” precedential barrier has always been a permanent fixture in our appellate law. We were therefore very troubled by the Bush v. Gore election case, admitted and decided by SCOTUS, but absolutely devastated by SCOTUS accepting the Citizen’s United case and then rendering such an irrational and unprecedented decision;  by freeing the floodgate of unlimited corporate political contribution and thus making a Punch and Judy show of our heritage of representative democracy.

  • {The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency.} We have, on many occasions, referenced the statement of Thomas Jefferson to the effect that, a literate and informed citizenry is required for the success of a democracy. Trump, an egotistic, shallow, glitzy game show host, with the gift of demagoguery and style of a snake oil salesman. by non-specific promises of a utopia, won the vote of the low information, flat –earth segment of our population; who were so mesmerized by his rant as to vote against their own vital interest, government assistance. He was also supported by voters who were simply “fed up with Washington” and responded to the candidates solemn vow to “drain the swamp.” The facts following the election show a much wider, deeper swamp with sociopathic alligators, mostly oil businessmen, American and Russian who clearly place a value on profits, above the life and health of mankind and the planet.

Trump’s ignorant egotism, poor judgment and shallowness of mind, in this short period of time, has damaged and confused relations, foreign and domestic and has embarrassed the nation.

We are not quite ready to stay home and plant our own garden, but are seriously considering a letter of apology to Monsieur Voltaire.

-p.

Published by

plinyblogcom

Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Literature Student and enthusiast.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s