Sen Franken:Supreme Court Caving To Corporations

Every Senator who has spoken before me has
sworn to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” And so have I. There
are few things that we do that are more important to fulfilling that oath than making sure that
the Justices of the United States Supreme Court are brilliant, humane, and just individuals.
_ _But these hearings are also a learning experience for Minnesotans and all Americans
watching at home. Before I joined the Senate, I watched at least part of every Supreme Court
confirmation hearing that was televised. And I think part of my job here is to continue
that learning experience for the American people. _ _Now, last year, I used my time
during these hearings to highlight what I think is one of the most serious threats to
our Constitution and to the rights it guarantees the American people: the activism of the Roberts
Court. _ _I noted that for years, conservatives running for the Senate have made it almost
an article of faith that they won’t vote for activist judges who make law from the bench.
And when asked to name a model justice, they would often cite Justice Thomas, who I noted
has voted to overturn more federal laws than Justices Stevens and Breyer combined. In recent
cycles, they would name Chief Justice Roberts. __Well, I think we established very convincingly
during the Sotomayor hearings that there is such a thing as judicial activism. There is
such a thing as legislating from the bench. _ _And it is practiced repeatedly by the Roberts
Court, where it has cut in only one direction: in favor of powerful corporate interests,
and against the rights of individual Americans. _ _In the next few days, I want to continue
this conversation. Because I think things have only gotten worse._ _And so I want to
say one thing to the Minnesotans watching at home: With few exceptions, whether you’re
a worker, a pensioner, a small business owner, a woman, a voter, or a person who drinks water,
your rights are harder to defend today than they were five years ago. _ _Our state has
been victim to the third-largest Ponzi scheme in history. _ _And yet in 2008, in a case
called Stoneridge, the Roberts Court made it harder for investors to get their money
back from the people that defrauded them._The Twin Cities have more older workers per capita
than almost any other city in the nation. _ _And yet in 2009, in a case called Gross,
the Roberts Court made it easier for corporations to fire older Americans and get away with
it. _ _Minnesota has more wetlands than all but three states. _ _And yet in a case called
Rapanos, the Court cut countless streams and wetlands out of the Clean Water Act-even though
they’d been covered for up to 30 years._ _Our state has banned all corporate spending on
elections since 1988. _ _And yet in January, in Citizens United, the Roberts Court nullified
our laws and turned back a century of federal law by allowing corporations to spend as much
money as they want, whenever they want, in our elections. _Not just federal elections.
Duluth elections. Bemidji elections. Minnesota elections._ _There is a pattern here. Each
of these decisions was won with five votes. And in each of these decisions, that bare
majority used its power to help big business._ _There’s another pattern here. In each of
these decisions, in every one, Justice John Paul Stevens led the dissent. _ _Now Justice
Stevens is no firebrand liberal. He was appointed to the Seventh Circuit by Richard Nixon. And
he was elevated to the Supreme Court by Gerald Ford. By all accounts, he was considered a
moderate._ _And yet he didn’t hesitate to tell corporations that they aren’t a part
of “‘We the People,’ by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.” And he
didn’t flinch when he told a President that “the Executive is bound to comply with the
rule of law.” _ _General Kagan, you’ve got big shoes to fill. _ _But before I turn it
over to you, General Kagan, I want to talk a bit more about one of the decisions I mentioned.
I want to talk more about Citizens United. _ _Now, you’ve heard a lot about this decision
already today, but I want to come at it from a slightly different angle. _There is no doubt:
the Roberts Court’s disregard for a century of federal law-and decades of the Supreme
Court’s own rulings-is wrong. It’s shocking. And it’s torn a gaping hole in our election
laws. _ _So of course I’m worried about how Citizens United is going to change our elections.
_ _But I am more worried about how this decision is going to affect our communities-and our
ability to run those communities without a permission slip from big business. _ _Let
me give you two examples of what I am talking about. _ _In the early 1960s, car companies
knew that they could avoid a large number of fatalities just by installing seat belts
in every vehicle. But they didn’t want to. They said “safety doesn’t sell.”_ _But Congress
didn’t listen to the car companies. And so in 1966, Congress passed a law requiring that
all passenger cars have seatbelts._ _Since then, the fatality rate from car accidents
has dropped 71 percent. _ _Here’s another story. Around the same time that we passed
the seatbelt law, people started to realize that the leaded gasoline that cars ran on
was poisoning our air. But oil companies didn’t want to take the lead out of gasoline. Because
altering their refineries was going to be, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, a
“multi-billion dollar headache.” _ _But in 1970, Congress passed the Clean Air Act anyway.
And thanks in part to that law, by 1995, the percentage of children with elevated levels
of lead in their blood had dropped by 84%._ _Along with the Clean Water Act of 1972, the
Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Motor Vehicle Safety Act are three of the pillars of modern
consumer safety and environmental laws._ _But here’s something else they have in common.
They were all passed around 60 days before an election._ _Do you think those laws would
have stood a chance if Standard Oil and GM could have spent millions of dollars advertising
against vulnerable congressmen, by name, in the last months before their elections?_ _I
don’t._ _So here’s my point, General Kagan: Citizens United isn’t just about election
law. It isn’t just about campaign finance. _ _It’s about seat belts. It’s about clean
air and clean water. It’s about energy policy and the rights of workers and investors. It’s
about health care. It’s about our ability to pass laws that protect the American people
even if it hurts the corporate bottom line. _ _As Justice Stevens said, it’s about our
“need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government.”_ _But I think that you get
that. Maybe more than anyone else in this room._ _General Kagan, you’ve shown remarkable
skill as a lawyer for our government, and remarkable candor as one of its critics-say,
for example, of Supreme Court confirmation hearings. I like that. _ _I want to see that
legal skill in action. And I want to see if you might continue the work of Justice Stevens.

27 Responses

  1. samala5793 says:

    I wish Al Franken was my senator!

  2. Mark Ollig says:

    Thanks to The UpTake for uploading this!

  3. Tom Grasso says:

    Wow….I never thought I would say this…but Al Franken is actually a good senator. NICE!!

  4. seamoremonster says:

    Al Franken, there should be more like him. It's about time the US took on the real enemy to our freedoms, our environment, our employment and standard of living…the Corporations.

  5. Keith Pomeroy says:

    The funny thing about what Franken is saying is that the federal gov't is now giving more and more power to wealthy globalists and multinational conglomerates. I do not know what Frankens record is, but he is singling out conservatives when his fellow liberals are obviously in the pocket of the rich and powerful. The great Obama himself was elected by a huge number of small anonimous credit card donations that more than likely came from global elitists.

  6. wmg111 says:

    Al's great. I'm a longtime supporter.

    Comedic writers are always the smartest people in the room.

    Just ask them.

    Bah dum…..

  7. givebirthathome says:

    Here is Al Franken being a great Senator, which doesn't surprise me, as I think most of our best comedians are some of the clearest general thinkers that we actually have. What makes me sad to reflect on though, is that we only have this good Senator….. because of ***312*** votes! And so often we hear the most humane, intelligent people say they won't participate in politics because it doesn't make any difference. If just one person who volunteered for Franken, hadn't…

  8. bobster451 says:

    @steeleye65 I think that may be because so many prudent voters saw the threat of electing a person who's backup person was a complete and total idiot!
    Ya Think?!

  9. Keith Pomeroy says:

    @bobster451 If you do not think Biden is an idiot, you have not paid attention. Also, check out the video of Obama's 57 state statement. Obama is an idiot and noone can figure it out because he has a law degree and teleprompters. There are idiots all over DC due to the fact that Americans are too use to not thinking for themselves. Money buys media which buys political power.

  10. Keith Pomeroy says:

    Al Franken might be a good politician if he would stop being a party mouth piece. We have idiots all over DC and he only notices the conservative ones. That is just more partisan BS!

  11. bobster451 says:

    @steeleye65 So you're one of those who resort to the "teleprompter" statement.
    I know exactly where you're coming from.
    As I said before, next time make sure the RNC gives America viable candidates rather than the crap choice they gave the last general election.
    The people you call idiots pale in comparison to what we would have with McCain and Palin!

  12. Keith Pomeroy says:

    @bobster451 Teleprompter aside, why is our president just now accepting international help for the oil spill cleanup. Obama does NOTHING unless there is something in it for him. Cap and Trade before saving the gulf! Amnesty for illegal immigrants who will immediately vote for him before we can secure the border! Stimulus that did something other than create lasting jobs! BO does not need to speak to be screwing us all.
    McCain was the smartest of the four and got no credit due to age and injury

  13. bobster451 says:

    @steeleye65 Maybe so in your eyes. America obviously saw it differently than you did. It is a done deal. Your selective amnesia over the crappy hand off of the previous administration is astounding!
    You can cherry pick all the history you want. When you look at the situation it is messed up. And the republicans continue to water down anything and then obstruct.
    There is where the problem lies.
    The reason McCain lost is Palin. Had he chosen a reasonable and knowledgeable partner, who knows.

  14. cj myers says:

    i have to say ,i really enjoyed listening to him.

  15. Keith Pomeroy says:

    @bobster451 Your take on McCain/Palin is incorrect. McCain was simply the least exciting choice for presidential candidate in recent history. Palin actually helped him be "exciting". She, alas, does not belong in the white house either. I hope a valid reasonably conservative candidate arises soon.
    As for the "crappy handoff"? That does not explain the reforms that have raised health insurance premiums and deductibles and credit card rates and fees. Obama is shafting the middle class!

  16. bobster451 says:

    @steeleye65 Well I guess I disagree with your statement!
    The fact that McCain chose such a dumbshit vp candidate shows pretty much how he was not qualified for the job of president.
    If I am going to trust my nation in the hands of someone who chose such a novice that had such a pathetic notion of governance and history Then I am the dummy here!
    I chose the qualified candidate.
    You can blame the obstructionists in congress for all that is wrong with the health care bill.

  17. Keith Pomeroy says:

    @bobster451 How anyone beieved that Obama himself was qualified for president is baffling unless they believed that his ego means he is great and smart. He is a great campaigner, but a mediocre president at best. He cannot seem to make a decision that was not included in the agenda that was written by his rich and powerful globalist backers. It took a full week for oil to reach shore and our gov't sat on its hands. Now it is blame time. Neither solves problems.

  18. bobster451 says:

    @steeleye65 Well then you are free to remain baffled. And ego was not part of the equation for me.
    As I stated before we get the president for a 4 year term. If you don't like him, tough.
    If your party is going to serve up crap for a candidate then when America decides you get to deal with it. Sad day for you happy day for me.
    If you are unhappy with him give us a better choice next time or deal with him again.
    You get to be a sad loser for now!

  19. vedicastrol says:

    what the hell is Franken doing on this committee? He's a comedian. He's never studied law.

  20. bqhatevwrsb says:

    Why is the Joker in the senate?

  21. bqhatevwrsb says:

    @TheMercilessEye So was Joseph Stalin.

  22. jimmyamanita says:

    The man has been gifted with an uncommon clarity of vision.
    The people of Minnesota have made a great choice in sending Mr. Franken to the halls of power.
    Makes me want to move to Minnesota .
    The Roberts court is the most dangerous organization in America. They have and will allow the rape of the planet, more power for the right, less individual freedom and more consolidation of power into the hands of the 1%. Very immoral and undemocratic men.

  23. Anti Hypocrite says:

    But I am happy that the Internet might change that on the corporate greedy individuals that are in America are just a bunch of selfish individuals that just look out for their cells and not the nation's well-being I'll is thought America was land of brotherly love I don't think that anymore specially how my lemon happened so quickly when someone were awarded happen so quickly they just were awarded happen so money would be hand over fist and make their friends rich.

  24. Anti Hypocrite says:

    It would be nice if we had campaign reform in our nation but I blame the media for this because there is greedy individuals that want to put all our money on campaign ads to be run on their networks. Our nation should be it we had the best two candidates running for office campaign should not cost that much.

  25. bluesboy25000 says:

    I love Senator Franken.

  26. William White says:

    Just like you Franken.

  27. tgrigsby7 says:

    Nailed it.  The Roberts Court is a miserable, corporatist, fascist court.

    Franken has made a fantastic Senator.  I wish we had more like him.

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