We'd have to have truly saint-like appointees to the Supreme Court to avoid this flaw. Only the very newly appointed justices -- those who still remember the feel of pavement beneath their feet and what it's like to make your own coffee -- to get around it. Even if you're completely free of political taint and you set out to be wholly realistic and fair, each day on the Court takes you further away from the uneven pavement of daily life in America.
Justice are separated from reality by crowds of clerks. Clerks don't just get the coffee; clerks help to determine the way a justice's intellect works (or doesn't). Clerks do the research and provide justices with opinions and arguments and counter-arguments.
This struck me when I was listening to an interview with Kim Barker about the corruption built into the Citizens United ruling of the current Court. Kim Barker is the ProPublica reporter who published earlier this month a report on the "Controversial Dark Money Group Among Five That Told IRS They Would Stay Out of Politics, Then Didn’t."
Citizens United depended for its "fairness" on public access to information about who's spending how much on which candidate or 501-c-4 dark money groups, the political money raisers who get a free ride from the IRS . Like Americans for Responsible Leadership.
Not long after filing an application to the IRS pledging — under penalty of perjury — that it would not attempt to sway elections, the group spent more than $5.2 million, mainly to support Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The California Fair Political Practices Commission has accused Americans for Responsible Leadership of "campaign money laundering" for failing to disclose the origin of $11 million it funneled to a group trying to influence two state ballot propositions.
The other groups that filed applications for IRS recognition of tax-exempt status saying they wouldn't engage in politics are Freedom Path, Rightchange.com II, America Is Not Stupid and A Better America Now. ...Barker, ProPublica
As Barker pointed out in the interview, the justices assumed not only that these groups would live in the sunshine, not in the dark, and that American voters would have access to information about where the money goes. Clearly that doesn't happen. We all have known that for, well, years now.
But they don't provide access to you and me anymore than they provide it to investigative reporters. Beyond that, the average American doesn't have the time and resources justices and their clerks have to get the answers. And even if we did, the law isn't strong enough to force the information out of those who have it.
In a Jan. 2 email to the editor at the Arizona Capitol Times, Jason Torchinsky, an attorney for Americans for Responsible Leadership, said the group had submitted an amended application for recognition of tax-exempt status to the IRS that "corrected the error that was the central feature" of ProPublica's story.
Contacted by ProPublica, Torchinsky said he could not confirm that this was accurate without his client's authorization. Torchinsky also would not say when the group submitted the amended filing, or what was changed.
ProPublica has requested that Americans for Responsible Leadership provide us with the corrected application or give the IRS permission to do so. So far, we have not received a reply. ...Barker, ProPublica
Why didn't the Supreme Court foresee this? Not all Americans have access to the tools that can dig up information like this, and that -- even if each of us had a computer and time and the familiarity with searching online needed to get information -- many don't have the time in the work day to do this. Even more to the point, access may be denied.
Even with the best will in the world (not something I'd accuse the right-hand side of the Court of having), it is far more difficult to get the information than the justices seemed to believe. And even if their politics were to stay out of it, they remain in a nest high up in a tree, well away from daily struggles. For the daily struggles they have a whole team of go-fers who have the clout and time to look for the information the dark money group is withholding. Come to that, the IRS itself can't get the info. So tell me, Tony, Sam, Clarence, and you others, you think I can get that key information? that your Citizens United decision is anything like justice?
Why in hell did we allow that that arrogant little clique to further corrupt our elections? What if we demoted them to a street-level storefront operation with one secretary, no clerks, and get-your-own-coffee?