Day: December 24, 2020

Background Briefing: December 24, 2020

How the Republicans Stacked the Courts in 2020


Gloria Steinem on Her Friend, Hero and Guide Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Today, we continue to look back on the stories that dominated the headlines in this tumultuous year of 2020 which is coming to a close. We begin on this Christmas Eve and look into what will be Trump’s main legacy, and that is how he has stacked the Federal bench with unqualified ideologues and the Supreme Court with three right-wing corporatists. We begin with an interview from September 28 with writer, lecturer and feminist activist Gloria Steinem who joined us to talk about her friend, her hero and her guide Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As the Republicans were rushing to replace RBG with a woman who could not be more the opposite, Gloria argued that that is another reason why the upcoming election in November will be the most important in our lifetime. We also discussed her latest book My Life on the Road now made into a biopic by Julie Taymor, “The Glorias“. 


A Former Catholic Theologian’s Open Letter to Amy Coney Barrett

Then we go to an interview from October 7th with a former Catholic theologian who wrote an open letter to Amy Coney Barrett. We began with Trump’s decision to abandon any hope of a stimulus for struggling businesses and unemployment benefits for millions of Americans afflicted by the pandemic which Trump described as a “blessing from god” as instead he focused on getting a sixth conservative judge on the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett. A Catholic theologian, the Reverend Dr. Matthew Fox, now an Episcopal priest and an activist for gender justice and eco-justice, joined us. The author of 37 books including The Pope’s War and the forthcoming Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic – And Beyond, we discussed his open letter to Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in Tikkun magazine. We went over the questions that should be asked of this replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg the Republicans a rushing to confirm, by Democratic senators and possibly some Republicans, to make it clear how Judge Barrett’s views are so far out of the mainstream of religious thought and diversity within the Catholic faith, not to mention the country as a whole.  


Could a Reactionary Majority on the Supreme Court Take America Back to the Gilded Age?

Then finally we go to an interview from October 27 on whether a reactionary majority on the Supreme Court could take us back to the Gilded Age as we began 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 and assess whether that was 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. 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, joined 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 have invested in and live in hope of achieving.