Op-Ed

Ky. Voices: 'Tea Party 5' brings high court down with partisan alliances

"The Supremes" once meant Diana, Flo and Mary, but now conjures the most political and partisan U.S. Supreme Court since the 1930s, or maybe since the 1857 Dred Scott decision.

The Tea Party gang of five (Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy) act virtually as an ally of the Republican Party, and some have engaged in breaches of ethics.

The bloc likely will strike down the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Insurance companies can then go back to denying coverage to people who have pre-existing conditions; and millions of Americans will remain uninsured.

The "intellectual giant" of the court, Scalia, in considering the challenge to the Affordable Care Act, compared buying health insurance to purchasing broccoli, unmindful that someone not buying broccoli does not equate to someone not buying insurance and thereby weakening the risk pool.

He even revealed that he was calculating potential Republican Senate votes to overturn the law.

Scalia sees nothing wrong with addressing a closed-door "seminar" of Congress's Tea Party caucus, and he has attended political conferences arranged by David and Charles Koch, petrochemical billionaires and extreme libertarians who have funded Tea Party organizations and campaigns against Obamacare.

Scalia's ties to the Tea Party pale before those of Thomas, whose wife, Virginia, has campaigned as a Tea Party activist against the new health care law and all of the president's policies.

With $500,000 from a Dallas tycoon, she went around the country vilifying President Barack Obama as a "tyrant." She, too, has attended conferences arranged by the Koch brothers to strategize to defeat Democrats and "their plans to destroy this country."

Virginia Thomas' previous activism also earned her big money, $700,000 from the right-wing Heritage Foundation alone, income that for 13 years Justice Thomas failed to disclose to the IRS. He said he misunderstood, but for 10 years previously he had reported his wife's income.

Anyone familiar with his nomination hearings and the revelations about him since knows how to weigh his truthfulness.

Alito is a Tea Party hero, known for his opinions being driven wholly by ideology and for his partisan disrespect for the president during a State of the Union Speech — shaking his head and conspicuously mouthing, "Not true."

That was in response to the president's warning that huge corporate spending would soon dominate elections.

Bad call, Judge Alito.

Meanwhile, Tea Partiers around the country are already counting the alleged swing vote of Justice Kennedy against the health reform. Kennedy signaled his thinking: "You don't have the duty to rescue someone if that person is in danger. The blind man is walking in front of a car and you do not have a duty to stop him, absent some relation between you."

Gracious, what would Jesus, who praised the Good Samaritan, say about that?

Finally, there is Chief Justice Roberts, who misled the Senate Judiciary Committee by professing his devotion to judicial precedent and who has since shown a disregard for precedent. He has presided over the most reactionary Supreme Court in decades and one that has lost legitimacy and stature in America and around the world.

Obama erred in declaring that it would be unprecedented for the court to overturn the health care law because it was passed by a democratically elected Congress.

Rather, it would overturn judicial precedents and even opinions delivered by some of the gang of five.

But Obama is a political leader, answerable to the voters. The unelected Supreme Court, however, is supposed to be non-political, non-partisan.

It has been evident for some time that this court's Tea Party majority is anything but non-political or non-partisan.

If a progressive majority on the court were acting like the Tea Party five, Republicans would fill the air with cries of "impeachment."

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