We sat down with Austin lawyer/activist and Southern Shift partner Ann Del Llano and spoke to her about last month’s Supreme Court decision to allow corporations unlimited contributions in elections. She started off by noting that the American public were big losers. She said the average citizen just lost a seat at the table in our Democracy because corporations will immediately have a louder voice and better access to lawmakers.
Ann also laid out some of the possible impacts this decision could have on many Texans. For starters, she noted that Private Prisons could suddenly start weighing in on elections and using undue influence and vast resources to push for harsher and longer sentences that would help increase their bottom line. She noted that we already have powerful police unions who’ve held considerable sway over politicians, who have found themselves under pressure to be tough on crime in the form of choosing jail sentencing over alternatives. This trend would increase if private prison corporations who stand to make huge profits from warehousing bodies step into the mix..They would be the ones controlling the candidates and literally writing the laws.
Ann also spoke on the issue of media corporations and how people’s voices would be drowned out when moves are made to allow them to control the internet and get rid of Net Neutrality. Here’s pt1 of our podcast…
The Power of the Judges and the Roles that they Play
In pt2 of our podcast we take a sobering look at the enormous power judges have in and outside the courtroom, the roles they play and how the recent Supreme court ruling could corporatize the type of judges elected onto the bench… We talked about the types of corporate influence that hs seaped into the Supreme Court in Texas where citizens going up against corporation rarely win. Ann expressed her fear that things would get exponentially worse.
We looked at a litany of criminal justice cases where the people accused of heinous crimes were let off by judges. They ranged from the acquittal of the officers who shot Sean Bell 50 times in NY all the way up to the recent dismissal of a case against infamous Texas judge Sharon ‘Killer’ Kellar . We talked about how George W Bush being ‘selected’ into office in the landmark ruling they made in 2000, was the result of his father George H Bush putting conservative justices on the supreme court who would rule in his son’s favor 10-15 years later. Ann pointed out the recent Supreme Court ruling was the result of Bush jr putting Roberts and Alioto on the court.
We talk about the importance of paying attention to elections and asking hard questions about the judges seeking office, especially in the areas of criminal sentencing. Ann lays out a startegy that voters can follow to start monitoring judges so they can be better informed come election time..
We also talked about how voters in Harris County in 2008 swept out all but 4 judges from office and replaced them with judges who were taking a different approach toward punishment.