Ralph Nader Supreme Court

No Corporate Law and Power Questions for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

Senators found no time to tap into Judge Jackson’s knowledge and analysis of the grave issues regarding the nexus of the power of giant corporations and the Constitution.
Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on March 23, 2022.
 Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

By Ralph Nader / Nader.org

In over twenty hours of grueling confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Jackson’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, Republican Senators (Cruz, Cotton, Hawley, Blackburn, and Graham) found much time to disgrace themselves, using the Judge as a prop for their despicable political ambitions. Meanwhile the Democratic (and Republican) Senators found no time to tap into Judge Jackson’s knowledge and analysis of the grave issues regarding the nexus of the power of giant corporations and the Constitution.

Senators, who should have known better, declined to raise the important questions about corporate personhood, or the provision of equal rights for corporations with human beings in a Constitution that never mentions “corporations” or “companies.” The Constitution is all about “We the People.”

Ignoring the immense power of global corporations over the rule of law, the immunities and privileges these companies use to escape the law and harm people with impunity, and the power of corporations under the 2011 Citizens United case to spend unlimited amounts of money to independently support or oppose candidates for public office were taboo subjects.

These are critical questions that leading citizen groups like Public Citizen and Common Cause would have wanted raised. The hearings, before a large television and radio audience, could have provided a rare educational moment for the public!

In numerous nomination hearings for Associate Justices of the High Court, we have submitted questions to presumably receptive Democratic Senators about corporations and the law. They were never asked. Our requests that Senators submit questions on corporate power to the nominee for written responses were also regularly denied.

Since my testimony with Dr. Sidney Wolfe during Justice Stephen Breyer’s confirmation hearings in 1994, outside civic witnesses have largely been prohibited from testifying at these tightly choreographed spectacles. Congress has added this exclusion to their overall closure movement against the civic community.

We are left with submitting testimony for the record, which rarely sees the light of the Judiciary Committee’s day. On the last day of the hearings with the nominees, the two Parties each select their own panel of rubber-stamp witnesses (often law professors). Both the media and senatorial attendance declines.

The Committee’s arrogance is such that distinguished people asking to testify do not even get the courtesy of a written acknowledgement. They’re just treated as nonpersons, instead of valuable contributors to the nomination process.

During the nomination in 2006 of the most right-wing corporatist, unitary-presidency ideologue, Samuel A. Alito, Jr., I wrote that the Senators did not “pose questions relating to access-to-justice, as provided by tort law, nor to the generic constitutional questions relating to NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and their dubious authority to side-step the sovereignty of our three branches of government with their mandatory decisions” affecting workers, consumers, and the environment.

When the most powerful institutions in our country escape scrutiny at these times of peak interest in the rule of law (constitutional and statutory), the charge that Congress refuses to confront corporatism and the supremacy of these out-of-control corporate behemoths comes full circle.

Call them above the law, beyond the law, or the creators of the law, giant and powerful corporations are a major domestic threat to our democracy. They are corrupting elections, dominating the media, blocking union formation, obstructing judicial justice for wrongfully injured people, and destroying our consumer freedom of contract – while strategically planning the future of human beings, down to their genetic inheritance.

Asking Judge Jackson her thoughts about the legal rights of robots, the engagement in military activities by corporate contractors, and the corporate patenting of life forms would have increased public awareness about important legal issues. Even if she artfully avoided judgmental replies, just asking what she knows about the settled law in these and other areas would have educated lawmakers and the public.

To get a sense of the immensity of this overlooked corporate phenomenon, please visit our website nader.org for the list of my previous questions and see the excellent article by the great journalist Morton Mintz in the November 1, 2005 issue of The Nation titled “Serious Questions for Samuel A. Alito Jr.”(See, https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/serious-questions-samuel-alito-jr/).

Readers, remember Congress is misusing the powers that you have granted it under the Constitution, but you still hold the sovereign power and duty to safeguard and improve our democracy.

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader is an American political activist, author, lecturer, and attorney noted for his involvement in consumer protection, environmentalism, and government reform causes. The son of Lebanese immigrants to the United States, Nader attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

20 comments

  1. I would guess that Ketanji Brown Jackson would be a good justice….But I’m not happy that she seems to ignore the vital question of abortion….Perhaps I’m wrong but can anybody shed light on this?

    1. There were No Questions about any of that because it was a grandstanding and very obvious
      “Racist disparagement”and Zero respect towards her qualifications as a judge.
      Senator Blackburn was the worst in my opinion, asking what was sher agenda and defining what is a woman . I could have thrown up at that point.
      No One treated Amy Coney Barrett in her hearing confirmation.
      I was most impressed with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson composure ,during this racking her over the coals.

      1. To Roxanna,
        If i recall correctly, candidates for the SC routinely decline to answer questions on matters currently before the court, as they should do, and as abortion is – I suspect any of the Sen knew there was no point in asking

  2. Ralph, I love you dearly and voted for you 4 times! But, as I recall, the reason you gave for running for Pres., starting in ’96, was precisely because of what you are complaining about now – the failure of both corp parties to raise the issues you raise – and, as Biden has promised, “Nothing will fundamentally change” – it hasn’t, and it won’t until we, in the immortal words of a 3rd party candidate I voted for twice, “throw the bums out”
    So, why have you apparently given up on, and, in fact, cast aspersions on, the electoral process – because you didn’t win? So you think it can’t be done that way? If so, why do you say “you still hold the sovereign power and duty to safeguard and improve our democracy.”? How do you expect us to do that outside of the electoral process? Demonstrations, phone calls, petitions, hanging out in Congr. offices? All been done before for some time but “nothing fundamentally changes” Ah, you might say, that’s because enough of us haven’t done enough of it. I might suggest that the reason you and other 3rd party candidates didn’t win is because enough of us didn’t vote for you …

    I agree we need to do “more organizing”, that it takes “social movements” – but social movements without electoral ones are like a one-legged man – he can hop around a lot, but he won’t get too far ..

    1. I too voted for Ralph Nader and do not expect to ever again cast a vote for someone I believe in – candidates like him are simply not permitted. Ralph turned 88-years old in late February. Americans are afraid of supporting 3rd parties because “they can’t win.” We find ourselves in this dark shithole because we continue to support D’s and R’s. And it’s getting darker with each passing day.

      1. To John R,
        I realized some time ago that the “3rd parties” can’t win bit is one of the most effective political lies ever told – any candidate on a ballot can win if enough folks vote for ’em and the PTB know this – they just don’t want us to know it, and in case enough of us finally realize that, they are making it harder and harder for them to get on a ballot (absurd # of petition signatures needed), keeping them out of debates if they do manage to meet the threshold, and making it almost impossible to access Fed’l matching funds – all of which would be totally unnecessary if, in fact, 3rd parties “couldn’t” win. As they say, the best way to keep people from using their power is to convince them they don’t have any …

        So why don’t we have better Reps – because enough of us didn’t vote for ’em, even when they were available to vote for, and they have been for decades – instead we voted for the ones we were told were the best we could get – either a D or R depending on which one you thought was a LOTE at any given time – result “nothing has fundamentally changed” We always got what we, as a polity, voted for – but never what we really wanted or needed …. “3rd parties can’t win” has been a deadly meme for our democracy and it is time, past time, for us to give the lie to it as it has been given to us …

  3. Bless your heart Ralph, did you really think these corporate whores would question anything that would upset their gravy train. Nothing but an embarrassing spectacle,

  4. Truth is our democracy is one dollar, one vote. Or representative republic, as right wing media and their uncritical audiences are fond of repeating. Of course they never want to discuss just who is represented. Who pays for–uh, donates to–all but a very few major elected officials? The 80% of us who aren’t multi-millionaires or part of the Ivy educated administrative elite are irrelevant to the political process.

    I don’t know if this nominee would good for the rest of us, the invisible, unrepresented majority. However, that our vice president is half Black and half South Asian only shows that the elite running the D party is fine with diversity…as long as the issues of class and economic inequity are never raised. If both your parents were college professors you’re in.

    Recently, I heard a cousin repeat that silly right wing propaganda that “they hate our freedoms.” I asked what exactly he was free to do. He mumbled something about voting and being able to go where he wanted when he wanted. As for that voting, see 1st paragraph above. I asked him if he were free to go to Cancun next Tue. Well no; can’t take time off work and couldn’t afford it anyway. I pointed out in effect this means freedom depends on what you can buy.

    A few weeks ago, I read a salient comment to an article on government policies. That what fines mean is that it’s okay for rich people. The real American way; all the freedom you can buy.

  5. Inasmuch as progressive members of the House rarely raise the issues of overbearing unelected corporate governance of the public, at least in explaining as simply and starkly as possible that the cause of the titanic spike in oil costs was not based in inflationary need to recoup lost profits but to satisfy their inherently stark greed (driving all talk of the corporate Democratic Party taxing billionaires to disappear), why can’t the progressive public, who have elected nearly 100 House members, see an organized prebuttal organized by the various Scheerpost orgs to raise these issues by the Progressive Caucus en masse in a well-publicized gathering before Judge Jackson’s hearings began, on the basis You The Public are getting inflationarily screwed by Them the Greedy????? Most of the public is on board with much of the Sanders agenda Biden adopted. Such a gathering strategically planned as an Emergency Alert to a public suffering the worst inflation since Jimmy Carter foolishly installed wildly conservative Fed members who raised interest rates 14 points to stop THAT corporate-driven inflation, which doomed his presidency, so that we now alert the public that a Republican Congress and administration will use that tactic if elected, as the spearhead of a broad agenda Corporate Governance agenda item for Judge Jackson to respond to (using the hook of the 19th century fraud of corporate personhood tacked on to an opinion of the Supreme Court by a mere clerk)? Such a gathering may have prompted a single targeted quasi-progressive senator to raise the overriding issue of inflation as having been substantially created by multi-national corporations? Why have voices like Scheerposts not attempted that tactic?? A little more creative thinking by the excellent Scheerpost thinkers needs be instituted, or I must ask the question Why my strategically organizing political voice cannot be lobbied by Scheerposts to be added to the staff of the Progressive Caucus to stop missing every glaring opportunity we have to move that ball into the consciousness of every gouged American voter?

    It seems our most brilliant progressive voices have no clue how to get this immense issue into the arena as a weapon Progressives can use to take over the House, elect Pramilla Jayapal as the next Speaker, and finally at long last never allow the public to forget it until we see that massive reform this country desperately needs. Contact me, craigbhill@gmail.com, please, Scheerposts, I’ll be on a plane to DC with your urgent backing to use my progressive tactics at every opportunity by Progressive leadership. WE ARE MISSING THE BOAT AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO KEEP THE PROGRESSIVE AGENDA FRONT AND CENTER IN THE RAPIDLY-COMING ELECTIONS.

    1. To Craig,
      ” … much of the Sanders agenda that Biden adopted” ??? – and what, precisely, was that?
      The Senators, on both sides, have no objections to corp control of the economy or of Congress – that’s where they get their campaign funding and their cushy post “public service” jobs – they are not about to poke the geese that lay the golden eggs

    2. PS to Craig,
      The only “progressive tactics” that will ever succeed in getting those issues on the Agenda in any meaningful way are the ones that elect 3rd party candidates to Congress …

  6. Another ‘grueling’ hearing, another ‘grilling’, another PR show for we the people who are on a need-to-know basis when it comes to anything having to do with matters of the corporate state.

    Why even pretend outrage to the shenanigans of the ruling class’ protection rackets? Do you really think the same institutions of rule, name-and-face changes notwithstanding, which passed such ‘rule of law’ as Citizens United, who long before that legitimated unaccountable rights of personhood for these fronts of class rule stolen from inalienable rights common people struggled and suffered for through centuries of slavery and civil war, value your irrelevance outside the manufactured consent they’re after?

    The hearings and other spectacles of political theater proceed before us on stages and screens as more sophisticated shadows on Plato’s cave wall. Beyond the scenes is where the decisions are made, just like any bizzness transaction of organized crime against humanity. Are we really to believe backroom deals by which any ordinary company is run by its owners doesn’t extend to the Big Bizzness of consolidating the wealth and power of nations and empires?

    We the people are no more than a useful fiction to masters overseeing us like so much livestock, or so many useless eaters who have reached their expiration date as commodified labor. The legal rights of robots doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the plans our masters have for us. We only have ourselves to save us from the dark dystopia they have waiting at the end of the line.

    Listen to the sirens’ songs inducing forgetfullness of all our many conditions of slavery, and let yourself be lured into the doomsday machinery of a fascist corporate state back at imposing final solutions upon us. Or take a stand. It looks to be our last chance to do so.

    The Rise of Global Fascism and the End of the World as We Know It
    https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/the_rise_of_global_fascism_and_the_end_of_the_world_as_we_know_it

  7. “Since my testimony with Dr. Sidney Wolfe during Justice Stephen Breyer’s confirmation hearings in 1994, outside civic witnesses have largely been prohibited from testifying at these tightly choreographed spectacles.”

    And judges exclude relevant contextual evidence as being “irrelevant,” because they don’t want juries to decide for themselves whether certain laws are just and/or whether they should make exceptions in certain cases.

    Anyone who thinks that we have anything resembling a representative government is delusional, badly uninformed, and/or badly misinformed. We live in a fascist police-state plutocracy with a now very thin veil of democracy. This country is so fascist that corporations have their own “police,” their own intelligence services, and provide much and sometimes the majority of the fighting forces in the U.S. imperialist wars. Police in most or all states have their own “Bill of Rights,” giving them more rights than the rest of us, and the Supreme Court gives them qualified immunity from prosecution which the vast majority of us don’t have. Voting doesn’t matter on any of the big national issues, as proven by the 2014 Princeton study.

    So as usual, Ralph Nader is right, and things are far worse than most people realize.

    1. ‘To Jeff,
      Is it that “voting doesn’t matter” or that too many of us have used our votes for too long to elect the same batch of people, over and over and expected different results ….

  8. In the barrage of bloviating from Senator John Cornyn, KBJ was asked if she would uphold precedent.
    She said she always would. Now, given the archaic Supreme Court’s many bad decisions – Dred Scott, Plessy-Ferguson, Heller, Gore v Bush, Citizens United, Voting Rights, Janus, etc. etc. – she clearly showed she is basically a conservative. Not enough for the Repugs, as Roe v Wade still stands, but …

    No Democrat questioned her on this. The Supreme Court has to go as an institution. As Whitehouse pointed it, it has already been packed by ‘originalist’ Federalist types.

  9. “Meanwhile the Democratic (and Republican) Senators found no time to tap into Judge Jackson’s knowledge and analysis of the grave issues regarding the nexus of the power of giant corporations and the Constitution” says it all. Let us come to terms with the obvious, what we have is the lesser of two evils: “Rs” and “D” a duopoly, one coin with an “R” and a “D” and no matter, when tossed, which side lands facing up (winning an election and taking power), it’s still the one same coin. Face reality, the only solution to the problem is a strong oppositional force (a progressive/populist people’s party). In my opinion, we can turn all that blue and red into purple if only we have the nerve to stand up and fight: peaceful, non-violent, non-cooperation wherein we all refuse to pay [federal taxes- which by the way are illegal], refuse to pay rent and/or mortgage, refuse to pay off debt (which by the way is also illegal- want proof- please read Ellen Hodgson Brown’s ‘The Web of Debt: The shocking Truth about Our Money System And How We Can Break Free’- your jaw will drop to the floor), in short, refuse to cooperate with this unjust and once again, illegal system. But once more, we have to have the nerve to do this.

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