To the Editor (of The New York Times):

“Fifty years of Supreme Court tinkering with our political system has resulted in a democracy so dysfunctional that no rational person would choose it.

“The People, though their elected representatives, gave us an effective Voting Rights Act to protect minority voters. The Supreme Court told us that we don’t need it anymore. The people gave us a campaign finance law limiting the expansive political power of the rich. The Supreme Court told us that unlimited spending by the 1 per cent doesn’t corrupt the democratic process.

“The people gave us a practical way to allow underfunded candidates to compete with rich ones. The Supreme Court told us that it was unfair to the rich. The people walled off the vast trove of corporate wealth from our elections. The Supreme Court told us that unlimited corporate electioneering was good for us.

“The people drew legislative lines to help racial minorities recover from centuries of political exclusion. The Supreme Court told us that it was a dangerous form of racism.

“But when today’s politicians entrench themselves in power by putting hurdles in the way of the poor people voting, gerrymandering district lines to assure the re-election of incumbents, and stacking the electoral deck in favor of the majority party, the Supreme Court just stands by.

“In the dysfunctional democracy the justices have made, the Supreme Court can even pick a president.

“The extreme wings of each major party control the nominating process. Poor people have to jump through hoops to vote. The party in power controls the outcome in too any legislative elections. And the superrich have turned too any of our elected representatives into wholly owned subsidiaries, and most of our elections into auctions.

“Madison would weep.”

—– Burt Neuborne, New York, Nov. 4,2013
“The writer is a professor of civil liberties at New York University Law School.


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