Franken: Conservative judicial activists have ‘distorted constitutional discourse’


Sen. Al Franken spoke out Thursday against what he sees as an increasingly corporatist and conservative Supreme Court at a speech to the American Constitution Society. Franken told the group of progressive-leaning lawyers that in the wake of Citizens United and through the efforts of conservative groups like the Federalist Society, the high court has left out the average American in favor of corporations.

“I mean, I don’t speak Latin. But unless stare decisis means ‘overturn stuff,’ then maybe it’s time for conservatives to stop calling other people ‘dangerous radicals,'” he said.

“They’ve distorted our constitutional discourse to make it sound like the [Supreme] Court’s rulings don’t matter to ordinary people, but only to the undeserving riff-raff at the margins of society,” Franken. “So unless you want to get a late-term abortion, burn a flag in the town square, or get federal funding for your pornographic artwork, you really don’t need to worry about what the Supreme Court is up to.”

He added, “Do they want to undercut abortion and immigration and Miranda rights? Sure. But those are just cherries on the sundae. What conservative legal activists are really interested in is this question: What individual rights are so basic and so important that they should be protected above a corporation’s right to profit? And their preferred answer is: None of them. Zero.”

He said that under Chief Justice John Roberts, the could had taken a decidedly corporatist stance.

“In case after case, the Roberts Court has put not just a thumb, but a fist on the scale in favor of those corporations,” Franken said. “A fist with brass knuckles. Which weigh a lot. Because they’re brass.”

Franken’s entire speech can be viewed at the American Constitution Society website.