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Friday, June 18, 2010

Franken Calls the Roberts Court an “Accomplice” of Big Business

Last night at the American Constitution Society’s annual convention, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) launched a full-throated attack on the Roberts Court’s enactment of a conservative agenda that strongly favors big business and bars ordinary citizens from access to justice.

Franken outlined the way in which the Federalist Society and conservatives controlled the debate and have effectively reshaped how many Americans think about the court system. He criticized conservative themes such as originalism, the concept of “activist judges,” and John Roberts’ infamous use of the umpire metaphor (noting that the metaphor’s originator in the 1800s asserted that judges are NOT like umpires).

According to Franken, conservatives have succeeded in moving the justice system farther and farther to the right by changing the terms of how the Constitution, the law, and the courts are discussed and debated.

Franken then strongly made the point that serving corporate economic interests is, first and foremost, THE point for conservatives; it is their goal and end game.

Calling the Roberts Court “an accomplice” of big business, Franken said it is trying to keep the American people from being able to fight back against corporate influences. He explained that, “in case after case after case, the Roberts court has put not just a thumb, but a fist, on the scale on the side of corporations—a fist with brass knuckles.” Citizens United, he said, was the “first shot in a battle to control information,” a critical issue because whomever “controls the flow of information controls the conversation, and thus comes to control the country."

Rather than allowing conservatives to continue to control the debate, Franken urged people to tell “our narrative” of the value and vital role of courts and of the need for the doors of justice to stay open to everyone. He urged groups like the ACS to not just debate constitutional issues, but take an active role in teaching ordinary Americans about the role and importance of the courts. The senator said ordinary Americans need to be brought into the debate and convinced of why issues related to access to justice matter to them.

Watch the full video here:

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