The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The Supreme Court:
In the Service of Big Capital

May 15, 2023

For years, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been getting sizeable gifts from a Texas billionaire and not reporting about them, apparently in violation of rules for government officials. Two other members of the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts, have also been accused of securing “improper” monetary gains by using their position as Supreme Court justices.

In a society dominated by the wealthy, it is not a big surprise that government officials take bribes—many forms of which are not even illegal. But big capital’s grip on government is much more deeply-rooted than the personal corruption of government officials. In capitalist society, government institutions are run in the interests of big capital. The government makes, and enforces, laws that facilitate the rule of big capital over the whole society—and in particular over the working class, whose labor is the source of society’s wealth.

Throughout its history, the Supreme Court has consistently sided with property owners. One notorious example of this is the 1857 Dred Scott decision, where the court upheld a slaveowner’s property rights over a person’s rights as a human being. The Supreme Court has also been used to legitimize policies that would not necessarily be approved at the ballot box—such as the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The Supreme Court is not elected by the population, and there is no legal mechanism for the population or, for that matter, any other government body, to hold the Supreme Court accountable. Such an institution is very useful for the U.S. ruling class.