By Mark Wachtler
November 1, 2011. Washington. (ONN) Yesterday, TIME Magazine released an article on their website that didn’t just take a quick shot at the widespread corruption throughout every level of government. Neither did it sensationalize one brief and emotional story. Instead, TIME published an article titled, ‘Judges are for Sale – And Special Interests are Buying’. The hard-hitting report crucifies America’s entire judicial system, most specifically, the Judicial branch of government itself.
Is America's Justice system broken? Image courtesy of VeteransToday.com
TIME credits information coming from a recent and scathing report publicized by The New Politics of Judicial Elections titled, ‘A Campaign to Intimidate America’s State Judges’. According to their website:
“The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2010 documents a coalescing national campaign ‘that seeks to intimidate America’s state judges into becoming accountable to money and ideologies instead of the Constitution and the law’. It examines the hostile takeover of judicial elections by special interests and a ferocious round of attacks, unleashed in legislatures across the country, against impartial justice. The report was written by the Justice at Stake Campaign, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.”
The article from TIME begins by describing how corporations and big, wealthy businesses are flooding Judicial elections across the country with money and calling it “a scandal that needs more attention”. With a respected and vastly distributed publication like TIME lighting the torch, the warning may carry more weight than from the NYU School of Law. Detailing one example of the wide-spread corruption detailed in the report, the author offers a case in point:
“West Virginia. In 2007, the West Virginia Supreme Court, on a 3-2 vote, threw out a $50 million damage award against the owner of a coal company. Funny thing: the man who would have had to pay the $50 million had spent $3 million to help elect the justice who cast the deciding vote. The West Virginia ruling was so outrageous that in 2009 the United States Supreme Court overturned it. But that was unusual. In most cases, judges are free to decide cases involving individuals and groups that have paid big money to get them elected.”
The report and following article name four specific population segments that are engaged in paying Judges, and reaping the obviously corrupt benefits of their judicial decisions. Those three are corporations, big businesses and trial lawyers. The fourth segment is the most obvious indication that something is seriously wrong – “unknown”.
That’s right. These very same corporations haven’t just concentrated their purchasing power on America’s Judicial branch. They’ve already paid enough money to enough state and US Congressman to have laws changed so that campaign contributions can be funneled to a candidate’s campaign through legal front groups. Those front groups no longer have to divulge where the money is coming from.
TIME asks, “Why does all this matter?” They answer their own question saying, “Because as money floods into judicial elections, we are getting courts that are filled with judges whose first loyalty is not to justice – or to the general public – but to insurance companies, big business and other special interests.”
The absence of justice in America isn’t just on the state level either. One of the most well known examples is the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. The people of Alaska were shown what the Constitutionally guaranteed “right to a speedy trial” means. It took 20 years and an estimated $5 - $10 billion dollars in damage before the US Supreme Court, led by justices appointed by a couple of Texas oil men, reduced Exxon's fine to a miniscule $500 million.
At the same time, US oil companies ordered the Legislative branch of government pass a law that capped the fine any oil company would ever have to pay for any oil spill of any magnitude at a laughable $75 million. That was in effect at the time of the BP Gulf Coast oil spill. If history is any indication, 20 years from now the US Supreme Court will order the Federal government and the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Florida to pay back the tens of billions of dollars to BP that the company was forced to pay at the time of the spill.
State and national judges aren’t the only ones working for someone other than the American people. One recent example from Chicago found a judge that dismissed not one, but two cases against corrupt police officers. The most incriminating part was that both incidents were caught on video and the evidence was overwhelming. In one case, a group of drunk, off duty officers beat four patrons of a bar. They also grabbed and smashed the victim’s cell phone as they were speaking to 911.
The other case the very same judge through out involved a police officer who killed two innocent people in a fatal DUI accident. Not only did the responding officer report that his off duty fellow officer smelled like alcohol and had bloodshot eyes, but the drunk cop was actually recorded on the tavern’s video downing an past-paced series of beers and shots only minutes before he got into his car and killed two people.
So, it’s nothing new that America’s Judicial branch is much more corrupt than most Americans are aware. In fact, many would say that the various corporate news outlets do their part to make sure American’s aren’t aware of the corruption. After all, it’s those vary same corporations that pay off Congress and the Judiciary that also happen to own many of America’s news companies. The fact that TIME magazine pulls no punches and exposes the truth is probably bigger news than the fact that America’s Judges are corrupt. All we at Whiteout Press can say is, Give ‘em hell TIME.