The Undemocratic Nature of the Supreme Court

Written by Carlos Jara
We’re seeing a lot of posts about how now that Trump gets to fill another SCOTUS seat there’s nothing stopping us from sliding into fascism. We think that grossly misunderstands what fascism is and how to fight it.
The SCOTUS is an undemocratic institution that manages crises in the repressive apparatus of the US state. It exists largely to “solve” issues while maintaining the legitimacy of the US state apparatus and presenting it as just and fair. The court has never truly been a champion of people’s democratic rights or a watchdog against government tyranny. In the rare occasion that it stands in the way of tyrannical acts by the government, the government manages to find a loophole, whether it’s executive orders to undermine immigrants’ rights or states legislating their way around Roe v. Wade to effectively ban abortion. The court also has a number of times actually stood on the opposite side of democracy such as in the 2000 election when it stepped in to prevent a recount of votes in Florida after flawed voting machines caused irregularities. The few times that the court has ruled in favor of liberatory policies, protecting abortion or civil rights, it hasn’t been because of the appointment of “activist” justices, it’s been due to the presence of a powerful mass movement in the streets breathing down the court’s neck. In these situations, the court passes progressive decisions, because otherwise it would risk delegitimizing itself.
The real power for liberation in society comes from the working class, from the broad layers of society putting their feet in the streets and demanding change. We hate Trump as much as anyone else does, but we’re not interested in just defeating Trump the figurehead, we need to defeat his whole agenda. Showing up in November to vote blue isn’t enough for that, because the reactionary agenda that is killing us is alive and well in the Democratic party’s continued support for the institution of the police, in their unwillingness to show even the slightest resistance to Republicans in government even as ICE sterilizes women against their will in concentration camps, in their uncompromising support for capitalism as a mode of economic organization even as the world burns. One of the most authoritarian acts of the government this year has been the imposition of curfews and unchecked police violence during the George Floyd protests. That was largely brought to you by Democrat officials. And it was beaten back by a mass movement. Even as disorganized as our class is right now, we were still able to show the government that they couldn’t afford to get rid of our civil liberties, that doing so would turn protests into rebellions.
These are scary times, and things are only going to get worse the longer we put off getting organized and taking action, action that’s independent of the Democratic party. We’ve got a world to win, and nothing to lose but chains.

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