Wednesday, June 27, 2018

It's Up To "Actions Of An Aroused Citizenry" To Keep This Democracy - Some Words From Howard Zinn After Roberts' Confirmation

If your stomach dropped at today's decision further weakening unions power to protect workers, and then dropped further when Justice Kennedy's retirement was announced, I recommend reading this  Howard Zinn article in 2005 after John Roberts' confirmation hearing.  Take two readings, then walk 30 minutes and you should be ready for the fight to save our democracy.  He reminds us that the Court has always been conservative, has always favored the powerful over the weak.  The only times it has inched forward have been when the people had already demanded change.

Here are a couple of excerpts, but you definitely should read the whole thing.

"Still, knowing the nature of the political and judicial system of this country, its inherent bias against the poor, against people of color, against dissidents, we cannot become dependent on the courts, or on our political leadership. Our culture--the media, the educational system--tries to crowd out of our political consciousness everything except who will be elected President and who will be on the Supreme Court, as if these are the most important decisions we make. They are not. They deflect us from the most important job citizens have, which is to bring democracy alive by organizing, protesting, engaging in acts of civil disobedience that shake up the system."
"The distinction between law and justice is ignored by all those Senators--Democrats and Republicans--who solemnly invoke as their highest concern "the rule of law." The law can be just; it can be unjust. It does not deserve to inherit the ultimate authority of the divine right of the king. 
The Constitution gave no rights to working people: no right to work less than twelve hours a day, no right to a living wage, no right to safe working conditions. Workers had to organize, go on strike, defy the law, the courts, the police, create a great movement which won the eight-hour day, and caused such commotion that Congress was forced to pass a minimum wage law, and Social Security, and unemployment insurance. 
The Brown decision on school desegregation did not come from a sudden realization of the Supreme Court that this is what the Fourteenth Amendment called for. After all, it was the same Fourteenth Amendment that had been cited in the Plessy case upholding racial segregation. It was the initiative of brave families in the South--along with the fear by the government, obsessed with the Cold War, that it was losing the hearts and minds of colored people all over the world--that brought a sudden enlightenment to the Court."

"Let us not be disconsolate over the increasing control of the court system by the right wing. 
The courts have never been on the side of justice, only moving a few degrees one way or the other, unless pushed by the people. Those words engraved in the marble of the Supreme Court, "Equal Justice Before the Law," have always been a sham. 
No Supreme Court, liberal or conservative, will stop the war in Iraq, or redistribute the wealth of this country, or establish free medical care for every human being. Such fundamental change will depend, the experience of the past suggests, on the actions of an aroused citizenry, demanding that the promise of the Declaration of Independence--an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--be fulfilled."

I came to this article through a tweet by Dr. T’Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, retweeted by Hari Kunzru.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting and sharing this; good timing, as I had been feeling a bit distressed since hearing this news. I will pass this along to a few of my relentless friends.


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