Justice John Paul Stevens is retiring from the Supreme Court. His moderate voice will be a serious loss for our country, since somewhat recent appointments have brought about a conservative Republican sway to the court.

Justices John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and often Anthony Kennedy have accelerated long-term damage to our democracy through recent decisions favoring big money and corporations. Surely most people by now have heard that corporations are “people” and money is free speech, both protected by the constitution, according to this court.

The shift to decisions favoring big money and corporations didn’t start with today’s Supreme Court, however; it began when our republic was born. The wealthy have had the power since aristocrats crafted the framework of our government. It is well demonstrated that the conservative political agenda favors business and wealth more than the non-wealthy majority. Ask yourself, which Party does not support increasing the minimum wage, vigorously fought against universal health care and would scrap the Social Security program?

Slanting the court toward right-wing conservatism is rooted in voter delusions. Non-wealthy voters continue to vote for Republicans who don’t act in their interest. Non-wealthy voters are a majority, yet there is a 50-50 split in party affiliation. That results in the election of Republican presidents who are able to appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court who favor moneyed interests over the interests of the non-wealthy majority.

In his 1864 Gettysburg speech, President Abraham Lincoln spoke of “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” but the Supreme Court later decided that corporations were “persons” protected by the 14th Amendment. Moderates such as Stevens have helped blunt some efforts by the recent court to create a nation of corporations, by corporations, for corporations, but, it already may be too late.

Jim ChiddixWaterville