Little people vs. the Supreme Court | Editorial
June 15, 2012 · Updated 2:38 PM
A small group of Whidbey Island folks deserves credit for trying to change things the old fashioned way -- with a citizens’ movement from the ground up.
These modest islanders are taking aim at one of America’s most insular institutions, the United States Supreme Court. Its nine members yield impressive power, able to overturn laws passed by state and federal governments, as well as laws endorsed by lower courts.
Once the Supreme Court takes action, there’s little that can be done. The Constitution allows justices to be impeached, but that hasn’t happened in living memory. Congress can pass a different law perhaps capable of passing judicial muster, but there’s no guarantee the majority of nine jurists will accept that, either.
Justices sometimes seem to consider themselves beyond reproach. President Obama made a veiled criticism of the infamous Citizens United decision in one of his State of the Union speeches, and the justices present acted as if they had suffered an unimaginable insult that someone as lowly as a president limited to two terms in office would dare to criticize a justice appointed for life, regardless of whatever physical or mental disease may crop up in an octo-or-nonagenarian.
That’s why it’s so impressive the Citizens United of Whidbey Island has had some success at going after the Supreme Court from the grassroots. Members were present at a recent Oak Harbor City Council meeting, asking that the council sign on to a resolution asking Congress to start acting on a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. The decision allows corporations and unions to spend unlimited money running nasty political ads on TV with absolutely no accountability.
Earlier this month, the city of Langley agreed to join the Citizens United effort and add its name to those jurisdictions asking for a constitutional amendment. Corporations and unions aren’t people, and their big money corrupts the political process. It’s a long shot, as the bar to pass a constitutional amendment is exceedingly high, but Oak Harbor should also join the effort. It might at least help make the august nine on the Supreme Court realize that they too are vulnerable to the power of the people.