surprise then that Supreme Court judges who are sympathetic to Republicans choose, when possible, to retire during a Republican administration so that the conservative president in power can appoint another conservative judge (for life) to take the retiree's place. Accidentally, or by design, it is extremely rare for a presidential nominee for the Supreme Court to be rejected.

Therefore it is not difficult to imagine how a Supreme Court, sympathetic to the elite (i.e. conservative), could minimize or retard the progress of civil rights or any other issue that threatened to alter the distribution of wealth or power. The bottom 90% of America must begin to recognize that the Supreme Court has been used as a powerful weapon to fend off serious attempts to alter the legislative infrastructure that determines the nation's allocation of wealth and power. Future historians may well consider that Ronald Reagan's greatest contribution to the economic elite was his choice of three of the five currently serving conservative Supreme Court Justices. {B162} The present members of the U.S. Supreme Court now have the potential to be the well-spring of American "conservatism" for decades to come. This was precisely the same mandate carried out by Feudal Judges.

If any reader is tempted to think that the problem might be solved by electing the U.S. Supreme Court judges, think again. Here's what happens in Texas, one of the states that does elect its Supreme Court judges.

Unfortunately, the same campaign funding quid pro quo arrangements, that exist between elected politicians and the elite, also exist between the judges and their campaign contribution benefactors. Traditionally, judges in Texas have been dependent on campaign support from members of their own legal profession. Of course this creates an obvious conflict of interest when a judge presides over a case where one of the lawyers has provided loyal campaign support. Justice is truly placed in a compromising position whenever a judge presides over a case in which a "supportive" lawyer is dependent on contingency compensation. When lawyers can get as much as 70 cents of every dollar awarded to a plaintiff, awarding the plaintiff is difficult to distinguish from rewarding the lawyer. Hmmm, now just how big should that award be?

It is privately acknowledged in the Texas legal community that the Texas Supreme Court has for some time been effectively owned and controlled by the plaintiff attorneys who hold tremendous lobby power in that state. {B163} So much for the idea of electing judges.

Lawyers in Congress

The degree of democracy that exists in a country can be measured by the degree to which the will of the majority is being carried out, and by the degree to which the majority share in the distribution of wealth. Nevertheless, the introduction of democracy in America was tolerated by the wealthy elite simply because it posed no great threat to their power or to their wealth. Under so-called democracy, as under Feudalism, the wealthy elite have maintained the power to control the distribution of wealth.

Some of the Founding Fathers did their very best to put an end to the dominance of an elite minority by wording the Constitution in such a way that America could become a land of equitable prosperity, with freedom of speech and equality before the law. America today bears little resemblance to the nation they tried to build. It doesn't take much to appreciate that it is not the will of the majority that the richest one percent should own more assets than the collective wealth of the bottom 90%!!

Unless those who are elected to represent the bottom 90% actually use their power in Congress to represent the needs and interests of the bottom 90%, democracy does not take place. And democracy is most certainly not taking place.

What is happening in American politics, is that only wealthy people who have the support of even wealthier individuals and corporate benefactors are now able to compete in the electoral process. Because of this financial pre-requisite, citizens who could truly represent the needs and interests of the working class are virtually excluded from representing their economic peers in Congress. Instead, members of the legal profession are slowly but surely filling all the seats that representatives of the people are supposed to occupy, but cannot, because they quite understandably lack the financial support of the economic elite. As it stands today, 60 out of 100 senators, 186 out of 435 House members, and the majority of members of both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees have law degrees. {B164}

Most likely none have known hunger, most likely none have ever worked for the minimum wage, and probably very few can even count a single blue collar family among their friends. In other words, at best they possess an academic appreciation of the interests and needs of the citizens they supposedly represent. Socially and economically, the two social groups travel in totally different social circles. They mix with a cross-section of their electorate briefly at election time, but for the most part, their associations are restricted to their own peer group with whom they compete for success in a material world. And of course as politicians, it is the wealthy special interest groups that have always offered them the most career rewards.

In any event, the 53,000 lawyers belonging to ATLA, the Washington DC based Association of Trial Lawyers of America (actually a plaintiff attorneys' lobby), have given money to 1,485 Congressional Democrats and 656 Republicans since 1977.

In 1987-88, it donated $3.9 million, and this figure does not include attorneys' individual contributions. {B165} As large as the contribution may appear, it is modest when one takes into consideration that Professor Lester Brickman of the Yeshiva Brickman Cardozo School of Law has estimated that plaintiff attorneys income from contingent fees (their share of settlements) exceeded $10 billion.

Lawyers in Private Practice

Like Al Capone, the elite are usually protected behind a host of front men, many of whom are lawyers. As a group, it can easily be said that lawyers have traditionally been raised on the elite's payroll, and willingly act on their behalf. Most of the highest paid lawyers, either directly or through law firms, find themselves on corporate or government payrolls. They are normally called upon to carry out and defend ongoing corporate strategies and actions.

Corporation comptrollers are usually willing to risk carrying out unethical and sometimes illegal practices for the rewards involved, because they too are reassured by the fact that the full power of the corporation may be used for their defense if they are caught. When necessary, corporate lawyers will also use all their acquired legal acumen to obstruct, delay and otherwise prevent attempts to condemn or punish their employers.

The continual close association of lawyers and judges with criminals has led to a difficulty in distinguishing one group from the other. The roles have become increasingly blurred, as most full-time criminals employ powerful full-time lawyers who are well connected with the judiciary.

How then does one distinguish a lawyer permanently in the employment of a criminal, ...from a criminal with a law degree?

In those countries where the wearing of wigs has been discontinued, the job of distinguishing lawyers from the criminals for whom they work has become doubly difficult. Lawyers employed permanently by our leading corporate criminals may yet choose to start wearing wigs, ...and false noses and glasses as well! Those who work in private practice end up providing services almost exclusively for the moneyed class, because the majority of society members simply can't afford to buy justice.

The Legalization of Crime

Perhaps the worst aspect of many of the economic scams mentioned in Chapter 1, is that they are normal legal business procedures ...made legal through carefully orchestrated legislation!

Legislation that would prevent or eliminate the scams has purposely not been passed, ...or even written. As a result of widespread deregulation, laws to inhibit the economic elite, and punishment doled out for high-level white collar crime, are both conspicuous by their absence. For example, little incentive exists to discourage the unethical business speculations that leave S&L owners rich, and S&L depositors holding the bag. Therefore, among the elite, it is usually only the careless or the greedy who end up breaking the laws to make money faster, or to recover from bad business judgments.

Even when the elite do get caught red-handed breaking the few laws that do exist, their brush with the law often translates into virtual immunity from punishment. Why? Because the legal system was designed to be of maximum benefit to them, just as the system was designed to provide them with the maximum financial benefits.

Court Trials ... A Disgraceful Farce

When a serious case comes along that involves the defense of one of the elite, the whole "protection of the elite" fraternity swings into action. Of all the ways used to get the elite out of the limelight and off the hook, the method of choice nowadays seems to be the extremely effective long drawn out investigations, prior to long drawn out court cases, prior to the inevitable further long drawn out appeals, that inevitably result in defenses involving lapses of memory, etc., etc., Although the media usually play a very important role throughout the proceedings, the court fiasco is the most galling. Let's start by reviewing some of the methods used to provide extra legal benefits to the elite.

Pre-trial Tactics

To begin with, some or all of the following standard legal tactics are employed: DENY guilt; DECLARE one's innocence; DESTROY any incriminating evidence; and DELAY the investigation and/or prosecution proceedings.

Of course during the initial stalling period, the press obligingly says as little as possible of a derogatory nature so as to ensure the

{B162} "The Conservative Five" The Economist (Jul 8 1989): p22
{B163} "The plaintiff attorneys' great honey rush" Forbes (Oct 16 1989): p199
{B164} "The plaintiff attorneys' great honey rush" Forbes (Oct 16 1989): p199
{B165} "The plaintiff attorneys' great honey rush" Forbes (Oct 16 1989): p197,199