Point of View Columns

Beware of the Black Robes

When the Portuguese Jesuits came to Japan in the 1600’s they were referred to as the “Black Robes” and were viewed with suspicion and concern by the Japanese. In the 19th and 20th centuries, men in white robes were viewed with suspicion and downright terror by black Americans in the South. Now it appears that all Americans should beware of certain men who are wearing black robes in the Supreme Court of the United States.

It seems that over the past several years the Robertson/Scalia/Alito/Thomas cabal on the Supreme Court has alternately shocked, stunned and outraged with its stubborn, steel-booted right wing agenda. Cloaking its ambition to turn back the clock to some mythical time in America, the SCOTUS Cabal has intentionally inverted, perverted and conveniently misinterpreted not only the stated goals of the framers of the Constitution but also the original purpose of the Constitution.

The SCOTUS Cabal simply ignores the fact that the Constitution was written in the 18th century – a time when women could not even dream of voting, black people were property and everyone at the Constitutional Convention was a financially comfortable white man, many of whom were slaveholders. The SCOTUS Cabal also chooses to select facts about the Constitution to suit its right wing goals and therefore ignores the inherent flexibility that was built into the Constitution to allow it to change with the times through amendments and judicial interpretation.

It is only because of its flexibility and adaptability that the Constitution of the United States has been able to remain the governance document of this country for over two centuries. To think that a few landholding, slaveholding white men living on a portion of a sliver of the Eastern Coast of North America in the 1700’s could have envisioned modern America – with its sheer size, diversity, technology and place in the world that simply did not exist in 1787 is beyond absurd.

The framers of the Constitution committed clear and documented original sins in the creation of the Constitution. Chief among them were the legalization of slavery and the refusal to grant full citizenship to women. Nevertheless, these flawed men did have the presence of mind and foresight to realize that a national governance document that was sustainable would have to be flexible and adaptable to the times.

When the Robertson/Scalia/Alito/Thomas cabal treats the Constitution like the Ten Commandments, arguing that every word is virtually a divine command from the 18th century, they are fully aware that they are using the Constitution to shield their real goal. And that goal is nothing less than the transformation of the United States into a right wing republic.

And that is why over these past few years we have seen the SCOTUS cabal empower voter suppression by eviscerating the Voting Rights Act. It has empowered the wealthy in subverting the voting process in the recent Citizens United and McCullough decisions and has now placed this country on the slippery slope towards a Christian theocracy by allowing explicitly Christian prayers in town hall meetings.

Much of what the SCOTUS cabal does is cloaked and soaked in legal verbiage and obscure references. But when the Supreme Court lawn is mowed and the rhetorical weeds are removed, it is clear that the SCOTUS cabal – these men in black robes, are to be feared, perhaps more than the Japanese feared the Jesuits or black Americans feared the Klan.

They are that dangerous.

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