Could a Reactionary Majority on the Supreme Court Take America Back to the Gilded Age?
We begin with Amy Coney Barrett’s choice of Clarence Thomas, the most reactionary judge on the Supreme Court, to swear her in at a staged White House event last night and assess whether that is a harbinger of the newest justice’s intent to take the court back to the Lochner era in an attempt to rip out the foundation under the current social order. The 19th century Gilded Age Lochner laissez-faire economic theory identified with the nation’s capitalist class and harbored contempt for any effort to redistribute wealth or otherwise regulate the private marketplace via a Supreme Court which acted on their own economic and political biases to strike down legislation that threatened to burden corporations or disturb the existing economic hierarchy. In order to mask their legally unjustified and intellectually dishonest judicial activism, judges invented novel economic “rights” like “substantive due process” and “liberty of contract” which they tacked onto the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Nancy MacLean, Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University and author of Democracy in Chains, the deep history of the radical right’s stealth plan for America, joins us to discuss the plutocratic money behind the push to seat Barrett and how “originalism” is window dressing for enabling a new unfettered Gilded Age in which legislation like the Affordable Care Act upon which millions depend for their healthcare, could soon vanish with a majority decision. And that would be just the beginning of the dismantling of the underpinning of the current social and economic order that libertarians like Charles Koch are invested in and live in hope of achieving.