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America’s Captured Courts

Decades ago, a group of powerful US corporate interests recognized that the unpopular policies they sought faced steady headwinds in the elected branches of government. But courts, stocked with amenable judges and presented with the right cases, could reliably deliver political wins without answering to voters.

WASHINGTON, DC – Any objective observer of the American political system must wonder why, when the United States confronts the world’s highest COVID-19 death toll and a ravaged economy, US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will do nothing but confirm outgoing President Donald Trump’s appointees to the federal judiciary. It’s strange behavior.

The explanation is a special-interest lobby operating largely out of public view – a political creature that has stalked America’s judiciary for generations and is determined to capture as much control as it can, while it can.

In fairness, McConnell is not the only one acting strangely. In the fall of 2016, Republicans invented the convenient “principle” that the Senate shouldn’t confirm Supreme Court nominees in an election year, and blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee, the well-respected Merrick Garland. Senator Lindsey Graham was unequivocal about the precedent: “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait till the next election.”