cover image The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America

The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America

Thom Hartmann. Berrett-Koehler, $15 (192p) ISBN 978-1-5230-8594-1

Progressive radio host Hartmann (The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment) delivers a full-throated indictment of the U.S. Supreme Court in this punchy polemic. The court is responsible for “literally billions of dollars of politically poisonous cash flowing from corporations and ideologically motivated billionaires into the bloodstream of our body politic,” Hartmann declares, blaming the U.S. Constitution’s elevation of property rights “above most everything else”; the justices’ lifetime appointments; and the 1803 Marbury v. Madison ruling, which gave the court the power to declare laws unconstitutional. Hartmann sketches the court’s contentious decisions, including 1896’s Plessy v. Ferguson (which upheld racial segregation) and 2010’s Citizens United v. FEC (which granted free speech protections to corporate campaign spending), and alleges that every Republican president since Richard Nixon (with the exception of Gerald Ford) has committed crimes in order to pack the court with conservatives. His suggestions to “break the right-wing stranglehold” on the court include imposing 18-year term limits and introducing cameras to public sessions. Hartmann cherry-picks his examples and vacillates between arguing that the court doesn’t reflect popular opinion and is too beholden to it. As a result, this crash course in judicial history is unlikely to change minds. [em](Oct.) [/em]