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There is enormous hypocrisy surrounding the pious veneration of the
Constitution and “the rule of law.” The Constitution, like the Bible, is
infinitely flexible and is used to serve the political needs of the moment.
When the country was in economic crisis and turmoil in the Thirties and
capitalism needed to be saved from the anger of the poor and hungry and
unemployed, the Supreme Court was willing to stretch to infinity the
constitutional right of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. It
decided that the national government, desperate to regulate farm
production, could tell a family farmer what to grow on his tiny piece of

When the Constitution gets in the way of a war, it is ignored. When the
Supreme Court was faced, during Vietnam, with a suit by soldiers refusing
to go, claiming that there had been no declaration of war by Congress, as
the Constitution required, the soldiers could not get four Supreme Court
justices to agree to even hear the case. When, during World War I, Congress
ignored the First Amendment’s right to free speech by passing legislation
to prohibit criticism of the war, the imprisonment of dissenters under this
law was upheld unanimously by the Supreme Court, which included two
presumably liberal and learned justices: Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis

It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of
poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights
only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike,
boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.

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