And, finally, New Rule: When you promise the American people that something won’t happen if you change the law, and then you change the law and it does happen, yeah, you have to eat a little shit for it. [slide of President Obama] Oh, I’m not talking about him. I’m talking about him. [slide of Chief Justice John Roberts]
Twice now in three years, first with the Citizens United ruling, then with gutting the Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice John Roberts and the conservatives on the Supreme Court changed the law and promised no bad would come of it. And bad came of it almost immediately.
John Roberts is kind of the legal equivalent of the guy in “The Hurt Locker.” Except, in his case, he always cuts the wrong wire and everything always blows up.
Now, back in June, before they took their summer break, the Supreme Court dropped a big one. They gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which is the law that forced – forced certain states – let’s just say the ones where you might find a Piggly Wiggly…[laughter] [applause]…forced those states to get permission from the Justice Department before they made any changes in their voting laws.
Why? Well, because, in the past, these states had…been naughty. And…and had prevented minorities from voting with little tricks, like poll taxes and literacy tests.
But, the conservatives on the court, all excited from being born yesterday—[laughter]—said racism had been cured and that laws against voter suppression were unnecessary, relics of a bygone era, like cassette tapes or moderate Republicans.
They said that other than shopping at Barney’s there was no evidence anymore—[one person in audience laughs]—thank you, one person! [laughter] [applause] –there was no evidence anymore that black people needed special protections.
Come on, it’s 2013. They’re dating Kardashians now.
During…during arguments for the case, Justice Roberts actually asked, with a straight face and a cocked head—[laughter]—“Is it the government’s submission that the citizens of the South are more racist than the citizens of the North?”
Well, for example, in the last election, 66% of whites in Vermont voted for our black president. Ten percent of whites in Mississippi did. So, maybe a tad.
And the South, after all, was responsible for enslaving black people, and Jim Crow, and the KKK, and lynchings, and Paula Deen lives there: I’m going to go with yes.
So, what happened after the court changed the law? Within 48 hours, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina, Virginia, all moved to make it harder for minorities to vote. The court was proved thunderously wrong in less time than it takes Miley Cyrus to get dressed.
Same thing happened with the Citizens United ruling. President Obama said at this 2010 State of the Union speech that the Supreme Court had, quote: “Opened the floodgates for special interests to spend without limit in our elections.”
And Justice Alito famously was shown mouthing the words, “Not true.” [he mouths the words “not true.” Turns out…[he mouths word “True.”
Of course, left to their own devices, the filthy rich – I’m sorry, I mean “America’s job creators”—[laughter] [applause]—it turned out they did indeed sway elections with billions from god-knows-where.
[slide of Sheldon Adelson and his wife] Creepy billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife – the last woman on earth rocking the “Annie Hall” look—[laughter]—they alone spent $150 million in 2012, money he mainly got from owning a casino in China. Just as the founders envisioned.
And, yet, Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority from his tower in Whoville…said, “Independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rises to corruption, or even the appearance of corruption.”
Which is true, except for ALWAYS.
John McCain called that “naïve,” which, of course, it is. And it highlights a very real problem with today’s conservatives. They are just too sentimental about how wonderful America is.
“Racism? That’s over.” “Moneyed interests? They couldn’t corrupt us if they tried.”
Conservatives act like they’re tough-as-nails realists, but they cry at fireworks. [laughter] And they get a warm, “morning in America” feeling thinking about lighthouses and farmers and the smell of pie. [laughter] And they just can’t believe that Americans, God’s chosen and wonderful people – maybe you’ve heard, we’re exceptional…[laughter]…would ever do anything as corrupt as—YEAH, WE WOULD!
Twice in the last three years, the court believed in us, and twice Americans basically said what John Belushi said in “Animal House”: “You fucked up. You shouldn’t have trusted us.”