Al Franken takes apart right wing Supreme Court [VIDEO]
The U.S. Supreme Court has become a safe haven for the rich and powerful as part of a careful conservative campaign, and a dead end for regular folks with grievances, Sen. Al Franken said on the Senate floor yesterday (video after the jump).
He invoked the case of Jamie Leigh Jones, a contractor with KBR who was drugged, gang raped by male colleagues in Iraq, mocked and then locked in a shipping container, to make his point.
Jones couldn't take her case to court because her contract forced her to settle all grievances through arbitration rather than the legal system. That contract was made possible by the Supreme Court's 2001 decision in Circuit City v. Adams, Franken said.
The case prompted him to introduce -- and pass -- an amendment that banned the Pentagon from doing business with corporations that prevent employees from suing their employers in cases of sexual assault. Republicans were outraged: Here comes another case of the federal government meddling in the affairs free enterprise, they said -- while being cast as pro-rape by some constituents. (The company called Jones a liar.)
Why attack the court's pro-corporate proclivities now? Because on June 28, confirmation hearings open on the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be the next Supreme Court justice.
Franken is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which conducts the hearings. He's made it clear she has his support, and he sees her as an ally.
Franken's Senate remarks continue a line of attack he opened in a speech at the annual American Constitution Society National Convention on June 17. You can view a transcript of that speech by clicking here, or here.
His central point:
I don't think you need to be a lawyer to recognize that the Roberts Court has, consistently and intentionally, protected and promoted the interests of the powerful over those of individual Americans.
And you certainly don't need to be a lawyer to understand what that means for the working people who are losing their rights, one 5-4 decision at a time.
Tonight, I'd like to talk about how we got to this sad moment in American legal history - because it didn't happen by accident.
Conservative activists -- led by the Federalist Society -- have waged a remarkably successful battle to re-shape our legal discourse, and thus our legal system.
And they're not done yet.
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