An Opus Dei Supreme Court

On July 1, the Supreme Court decided two major cases. In both, the 6-3 majority – of whom 5 of the 6 are Catholic – dealt a grievous blow against democracy by increasing the power of the Republican minority and the plutocracy. This is a reminder that Opus Dei has a malevolent influence over the judicial branch of our government.

Increasing the Power of the Republican Minority

One Supreme Court decision “essentially gutted what’s left of the Voting Rights Act,” Nina Totenberg said on NPR.

“I think it’s fair to say that all of the major paths to challenging voting rules in federal court have been severely cut back,” said Richard Hasen, a leading expert on voting rights and law professor at University of California Irvine. “As the Republican Party becomes more reliant on white voters, it has less of an incentive to support any renewed voting rights protections,” he stated.

Writing for the dissent, “Justice Elena Kagan accused the majority of ‘yet again’ rewriting the Voting Rights Act, a law, she noted, designed to bring about ‘the end of discrimination in voting.’ “Never before has a statute done more to advance the nation’s highest ideals. Few laws are more vital in the current moment. Yet in the last decade this Court has treated no statute worse,'” she wrote as reported by NPR.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act had “confronted one of this country’s most enduring wrongs; pledged to give every American, of every race, an equal chance to participate in our democracy,” stated Kagan. “That law, of all laws, should not be diminished by this court.”

In 2013, the Supreme Court by a 5-4 majority, “gutted the law’s key provision, which until then required state and local governments with a history of racial discrimination in voting to get federal approval prior to making any changes in voting procedures,” Totenberg explained. That 5-4 majority was composed of all Catholics: Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.

The landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act had been “widely hailed as the most effective piece of civil rights legislation in the nation’s history. [But] for all practical purposes, all that is left of it [after the July 1 decision] are only the most egregious forms of discrimination,” Totenberg stated.

Protecting the Power of the Plutocracy

Also on July 1, the Supreme Court – by the same 6-3 majority – “sided with rich donors and their desire to remain anonymous against a state law aimed at policing the finances of charities and other nonprofits,” Totenberg said on another NPR broadcast.

“The key point is that it will be much harder to sustain campaign finance disclosure laws going forward,” Rick Hasen, the University of California law professor, wrote. The court “subtly opened the door” to challenge these laws wrote Lloyd Mayer, a law professor at Notre Dame. “Such challenges could easily lead to major donors and groups they support being able to even more easily hide donor identities, sharply increasing the flow of dark money supporting candidates and advocacy efforts,” Mayer stated.

“Dark money is election-related spending where the source is secret. Citizens United contributed to a major jump in this type of spending, which often comes from nonprofits that are not required to disclose their donors,” explained Tim Lau writing for the Brennan Center for Justice.

The 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission “reversed century-old campaign finance restrictions and enabled corporations and other outside groups to spend unlimited funds on elections. While wealthy donors, corporations, and special interest groups have long had an outsized influence in elections, that sway has dramatically expanded since the Citizens United decision, with negative repercussions for American democracy and the fight against political corruption,” Lau wrote.

The 5–4 majority in favor of Citizens United were the same Catholic justices who gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito.

The 2021 case, Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, was brought by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a tax-exempt nonprofit founded by the Koch brothers, as well as the Thomas More Law Center, also a tax-exempt nonprofit. Donations to both are tax deductible and donor names are secret.

The Thomas More Law Center was named after the Catholic saint beheaded for refusing to accept King Henry VIII as head of the Church of England. According to its website, their mission is to “protect the sanctity of human life. restore time-honored moral and family values.” That’s right-wing code for denying women’s and LGBTQ person’s human rights. They are the “moral values” carefully chosen by the neoconservative founders of the Religious Right to energize conservative Christians to get-out-the-vote and political activism.

The law center also states its mission is to “defend the religious freedom of Christians.” “Religious freedom” or “religious liberty,” are code words for discrimination, intolerance, sexism and homophobia, explained Martin R. Castro, former chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

A Brennan Center report by Daniel I. Weiner stated: “Perhaps the most troubling result of Citizens United [is that] in a time of historic wealth inequality, the decision helped reinforce the growing sense that our democracy primarily serves the interests of the wealthy few, and that democratic participation for the vast majority of citizens is of relatively little value …. An election system that is skewed heavily toward wealthy donors also sustains racial bias and reinforces the racial wealth gap. Citizens United also unleashed political spending from special interest groups,” Weiner noted.

“Finally, because they can hide the identities of their donors, dark money groups also provide a way for foreign countries to hide their activity from U.S. voters and law enforcement agencies. This increases the vulnerability of U.S. elections to international interference,” Lau warned.

An Opus Dei Court

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., called July 1 a “dark, dark day for democracy. The Court That Dark Money Built just built dark money a home in our Constitution,” he said on Twitter.

Whitehouse was referring to the fact that “dark money donors invest in a Supreme Court nominee in order to reduce the regulatory power of the state by placing limits on what Congress and judges can do” wrote Nancy LeTourneau in the Washington Monthly

The Supreme Court was “built” by the Federalist Society, Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) and other “interlocking nonprofits working on media campaigns and other initiatives generating public support for conservative judges,” all coordinated by Leonard Leo, according to a report in the Washington Post.

“Leo’s efforts to ensure that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito were confirmed engaged the dark money spending power of JCN. It has spent millions across the country to influence the elections of judges and attorneys general as well as judicial appointment and confirmation processes. In 2005 and 2006, Leo and the Federalist Society worked with JCN to coordinate radio and online ads as well as on grassroots efforts to support the confirmation of the right-wing justices,” according to sourcewatch.org.

“The Federalist Society is a hugely powerful, nationwide organization,” said Amanda Hollis-Brusky, author of Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution on NPR.

“The only Supreme Court nominee put forward by a Republican president since the 1990s who wasn’t tied to the Federalist Society was Harriet Miers, and we all know what happened to her. There were many things that upended the Miers nomination, but the fact that she didn’t have the Federalist Society in her corner when the criticisms started meant that she was on her own and doomed from the start,” wrote Nancy LeTourneau in the Washington Monthly.

Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Society, “has shepherded the confirmation process” for Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett noted LeTourneau. “But what is less known about Leo is how his religious views have had an impact on the courts,” she stated. “Leo is Catholic and all of the Supreme Court justices he has been involved with since the 1990s have been Catholic – with the exception of Gorsuch, who was raised Catholic but attended an Episcopal church after he married an Anglican,” noted LeTourneau.

Gorsuch, however, “has an excellent record” said Carrie Severino, JCN president. She cited as an example of Gorsuch’s pro-Catholic bona fides his decision in favor of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, “which was at the heart of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision and the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor,” both restricting Obamacare’s contraception coverage. After his first year on the Supreme Court, “Gorsuch confirms conservatives’ hopes, liberals’ fears …. His willingness to speak at Trump International Hotel sparked objections from some ethics experts who noted a case involving foreign payments that could one day reach the high court,” Erin Matson wrote in USA Today.

“Leo currently serves on the board of the Catholic Information Center – as have Bill Barr and Trump’s White House Counsel Pat Cipollone,” LeTourneau stated.

Run by Opus Dei, the CIC “advances a hard-right political agenda” and is “a rallying point for ultra-conservative Catholics eager for a voice in the secular halls of government power,” stated Church and State, the magazine for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Located on K Street just two blocks from the White House, the center is “a bustling gathering place for conservative academics, politicians, journalists and young professionals.” The CIC’s “members and leaders continue to have an outsize impact on policy and politics. Its influence is felt in all of Washington’s corridors of power,” wrote Joe Heim in the Washington Post.

Opus Dei is an official arm of the Catholic Church. It is a secret society – member’s names are unknown unless self-disclosed or they are listed as officials of Opus Dei organizations.

Non-Catholics are welcomed as “cooperators.” Robert George, a Princeton law professor with connections to Opus Dei, endorsed Gorsuch.

Martin A. Lee, author and activist who has written books and articles on far-right movements, noted that Opus Dei is international, powerful and “politically committed.” “Opus Dei is mostly businessmen, professionals, military personnel and government officials …. Its members control a large number of banks and financial institutions,” Lee wrote. Its roots are in fascist Spain. “In the latter stages of the Franco regime, ten out of 19 cabinet officers belonged to or were closely allied with Opus Dei,” Lee stated.

At the top, Opus Dei “is an efficient machine run to achieve world power,” investigative reporter Penny Lernoux wrote in her book People of God: The Struggle for World Catholicism.

“Opus Dei uses the Catholic Church for its own ends which are money and power …. Its members form a transnational elite. They seek to colonize the summits of power. They work with stealth – ‘holy discretion’ – and practice ‘divine deception,’” Robert Hutchison wrote in the introduction to his book, Their Kingdom Come: Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei.

Opus Dei controls the Vatican, a Foreign Country

The notorious 1980’s Vatican Bank scandal revealed the Vatican “had moved money around the [Italian bank] Ambrosiano’s accounts to allow banks and companies to pass financial inspection,” Stephanie Yang wrote for the Business Insider. In 1984, the Vatican had to pay $244 million to settle claims by Ambrosiano’s creditors.

It has often been only presumed – because the vast majority of Vatican finance was and remains secret – that Opus Dei paid the fine. In return, Pope John Paul II gave the organization autonomy to operate as it chose with no oversight save that of the pontiff. This also gave Opus Dei plutocrats entrée into Vatican finance and increasing power.

Control of the Vatican is worth the effort. The sovereignty of the Holy See – the name of the government of both the Vatican City State and the worldwide Church – provides criminal and civil immunity from any other authority to Vatican residents and officials.

The Vatican has immense wealth. How it is earned, how it is spent, who profits remain hidden – shielded by self-rule. Vatican plutocrats’ access to global financial markets is facilitated by its status as a sovereign city/state.

As officials of an independent nation, a pope and his appointees also have access to, and some influence in, many international organizations.

Additionally, the Church has roughly 5,000 prelates around the world who are heads of dioceses. Each one has the capacity for hidden bank accounts, investments, slush funds named for some phony charity or foundation. Under the guise of “freedom of religion,” those prelates in industrialized countries operate with no governmental oversight.

In the U.S., there are 195 dioceses. Additionally, the bishops control around 40,000 organizations, agencies and foundations each with a 501(c)(3) tax code. That means they pay no taxes, provide a tax deduction to their donors, and are have no legal obligation to produce financial statements showing truthfully where their money comes from or where it goes.

While Americans deservedly worry over the Koch brothers, Citizens United, “dark money” SuperPACs, et al, the Catholic Church can move unlimited funds – foreign and domestic – to think-tanks, media, voter suppression efforts, every means available to the plutocracy to subvert our democracy. Which was another compelling reason for the intentional creation of the Religious Right by neoconservatives in the late 1970s.

Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in American.

Related blogs include:

Opus Dei Influence Rises to the Top in the Vatican

Vatican Finances Now Controlled by the Company Men

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Lookout's picture

...with a sad and powerful connection to opus dei. Reminds me of the power and the unaccountability of the CIA.

Thanks for the update on this failed branch of government.

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15 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

zed2's picture

The newest courts are run by so called global economic governance orgs, and to me they basically seem to lack legitimacy. As they exclude elected representation of any kind.

This is an panel discussion on EU’s Multilateral Investment Court and its alternatives: Live Streaming Public Forum in Brussel

(actually there are two separate panel discussions its long..) I thought the discussion of standing was interesting. standing means whether people exist to be heard..

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10 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

The oligarchs' capture of the court via joining forces with The Church recalls the fact that The Church was one of Mussolini's "corporates". The Court's ability to re-write laws means that barring some President and Congress vastly increasing its size and loading it with secularist non-captured judges, we are within the ambit of the FDR quote I use for a sig line.

Thanks again

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

QMS's picture

use it to fund social programs to counter hunger, homelessness and disease.
whenever I see statues and idolatry associated with various 'houses of god' I wonder..
What would Jesus think?

Exodus 20:4-5, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God...”

http://jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Roman%20Catholicism/idolatr...

Thanks Betty C

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@QMS Was the capture or potential capture of the Supreme Court anticipated by the Founders?

Even if the Congress should get the gumption to write good laws, could the be court proof?

Just the idea that one institution can be so powerful in our daily lives. What happened to the people who were afraid JFK would be the Pope's avatar in the US?

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

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@Dawn's Meta

They may not have anticipated it, but they worried about the Roman Catholic Church's history of dominionism and about the evangelical Protestants "fevered" revivalistic spirit

A long but great summary..https://lehrmaninstitute.org/history/the-founders-tolerance.html

They would have been appalled by the power the Catholic Church in America is afforded these days (let's not forget the recently $6.4 billion of taxpayer PPP monies that went to the Catholic churches alone) and by the total take over of religion at all levels of government in the US.

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"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

@Fishtroller 02 @Fishtroller 02
So people can't enforce "No Catholics on the Supreme Court"
"No Jews on the Supreme Court" "No {choose whoever you hate} on the Supreme Court"

No, nothing but good old WASPs on the Supreme Court.

None of them either. What was Kennedy thinking when he appointed Thurgood Marshall? Oh, right. Kennedy was part of that Catholic cabal.

EDIT:
I read too quickly. Kennedy appointed him to the Circuit court of appeals. Johnson appointed him to the Supreme court.

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1 user has voted.

I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

Instead, the complaints, to me, seem to be naked anti-Catholicism.

Megachurch Protestants are better?

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3 users have voted.

I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

@The Voice In the Wilderness
by cozying up to government. The latest Supreme Court is bent on totally destroying the concept of separation of church and state. Just in my small town in KY, the rights of LGBTQ people are being denied because our government reps are voting their bibles and religion rather than our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Religion is poisoning this country.

"Naked anti-Catholicism"? Don't get me started on the Catholic Church and their totally corrupt and immoral institution..the abuse of children (now it is revealed that includes Native American children lying in mass graves) etc. The Roman Catholic Church should be hauled up before the World Court and then taken down brick by brick. Anyone with a sense of morality should find it hard to defend that institution much less support it.

So yeah- I sure have anti-religious sentiments... and for GOOD reason.

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"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

thanatokephaloides's picture

@Fishtroller 02

All religions in this country are usurping our votes

Please show me how our country's non-Abrahamic religions are doing this.

Thank you!

Smile

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

@thanatokephaloides

institutional locations in the US took PPP monies... even though who did not need it. This is well documented by numerous articles.

All religious institutions in the US utilize the over 200 tax exemption advantages that churches have been lobbying for for decades. These exemptions force taxpayers to pay higher taxes while religious institutions get public services for free. Why do you think there are so many mini churches everywhere you look. And yes, this includes non-Abrahamic groups. https://www.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2011/11/Religious...

And as I mentioned to someone else, you can check out the monthly Black Collar Crime pages in FFRF's Freethought Today newspaper... plenty of crimes, particularly against women and children by the Buddhist, Hindu and other non-Christian groups.

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4 users have voted.

"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

@Fishtroller 02
Perhaps I missed it when you criticized the Bible thumping Protestants.
Or is it that Catholics come from eastern and southern Europe while Protestants come from the "ethically pure" Northern Europe?

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

@The Voice In the Wilderness

offender of rights. Let us not also forget the Catholic owned hospitals that deny women their reproductive rights every day.

But if you want to be ecumenical about things.... just read the Black Collar Crimes pages in Freedom From Religion's Freethought Today newspaper. Tons of abuses going on in other religions too in the US... all of them.

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4 users have voted.

"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

What do the first two paragraphs have to do with the second two?

There are many bad things one could say about Christianity and its agenda (Catholic Church or otherwise - bear in mind MY view is that not even Christianity and Islam deserve to be considered separate religions, let alone the petty infinite fractalization within Christianity), but WHY would they be so keen on gutting the Voting Rights Act and defending plutocracy?

Caring about the poor is supposed to be one of Catholicism's signature reedeeming features (as opposed to, say, Calvinists). I was raised to assume the Catholic Church was a benign (however socially conservative) organization - it was supposed to be the Southern Baptists who were the "bad" Christians.

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We live in a society in which "we live in a society" is considered a subversive and vaguely-threatening statement.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

Cassiodorus's picture

While the "Left" in America sells out to neoliberal "representatives" time and time again, the rest of America wonders how it is going to display any sort of rebellion against currently dominant manifestations of capitalism. The consensus choice, in 2016 as in 2020, was Donald J. Trump and thus with the group that eventually became the January 6 disturbance.

Meanwhile, capitalism, becoming more casino-like with each passing day, places its hopes in the one "sure" bet -- the government. When things turned sour, the super-rich became the welfare bums they paid others to denounce.

By the way, if you make a habit of citing National Propaganda Radio and "leading Democrats," it will lead you inexorably to the conclusion that only one part of the elites is the problem and that the rest of the elites are super-kewl.

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9 users have voted.

"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

If I had to choose between influence of Opus Dei and influence of the warmongering, "nation-states are obsolete" neo-cons, I would choose the former who at least are not promoting overseas adventurism.

The presence on the Supreme Court of supremely unqualified Barrett is something the Democrats brought on themselves and us. We all know how she got there, right; Trump requested dossiers about women judges which he likely didn't read. He flipped through the pictures and picked the one who would look best on TV. She, of course, jumped at the chance of escalator to upper class level access and influence for five of her six children and best of care for the last one. I can't help wondering how many Rep. senators had to field calls from disgruntled donors--"We don't do that kind of favors for soccer moms". The Dumbs chose to make the confirmation hearings about They're coming for your health care in order to reach those much coveted suburban Republican voters, forgetting that the SC is a lifetime appointment.

No Rep. senator was going to vote against Barrett but she was vulnerable enough that her name might have been withdrawn, provided Dumbs had done their jobs. She could have been challenged on lack of experience--as far as I could tell she has NEVER litigated a case in court, nor did I read of her doing ANY pro-bono work. She could have been challenged from a Catholic perspective on her understanding of Catholic social teachings, with Rerum Novarum and the Sumna Theologica for texts.
Has a homeless man who steals food for his family for one day's sustenance committed a crime in your view, Judge Barrett? (Barrett, like any good conservative Catholic believes that sins should be crimes.) Are you aware that no less an authority than the Angelic Doctor himself disagrees with you? She was and is clearly yet another example of unqualified nicelady lookers being promoted over the heads of other far more qualified and hard working men and women, a fact which the Dumbs made no attempt to point out, probably because they are also vulnerable on that point, c.f. the career of one Neera Tanden. I am not aware that they did ANY due diligence on Barrett's academic background, cases she decided during her VERY brief tenure on the Federal bench, or on her various civic and religious associations.

Congress will clearly have to revisit voting rights, which means 1.Schemer has to go as Majority Leader. It is time for Merkley to take over. 2. Candidates like Nina Turner, Erica Smith in N. Carolina, and others, I think we know who they are and never mind if they say nice things about the Palestinians and don't pledge allegiance to Israel, must be supported at all costs. Unless you think Schemer's army of used to be Republicans is going to do anything for voting rights or any other kind of rights for anyone who lives at less than upper middle class level of affluence.

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Nastarana

@Nastarana
Dems hoisted on their own petard. That's what happens when you put gender and race ahead of qualifications. Besides making it bad for women and non-white men who ARE qualified but presumed to be appointed based solely on race/gender.

Two rotten sexist racist parties, both devoted to the 0.1%
The only difference is which racists and sexists they cater to. In this race to the bottom the GOP is indeed the Grand OLD Party, clinging to the old racist sexists while the Democratic Party are new and hip, catering to the new racists and sexists.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

TheOtherMaven's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

So just how "new" are they really?

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4 users have voted.

There is no justice. There can be no peace.

snoopydawg's picture

I wasn’t aware of any of that.

As always you rock!

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In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

comments. This was an interesting conversation and I remain in awe of the knowledge and caring of this community. Thank you snoopydawg and all of you for your encouragement. It's what keeps me working.

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Betty Clermont