by Michael Hammerschlag 700 wds
In its incredible decision to defy all precedent and stop the Florida Supreme Court from handcounting the votes, the US Supreme Court has permanently sullied it’s reputation and allied itself firmly with the corrupt charade that started with Katherine Harris and extended to the Florida Legislature and Sauls Court- the object being to delay and block the legitimate manual recount to prevent Bush’s loss. Scalia has decided that Bush’s losing was an “injury” that had to be prevented by crushing the will of the people. There wasn’t time enough to count the ballots, they claimed, which they insured in their Catch 22 Stay of the recount.
Arguments as the Court contemplated its outrageous course, were impressively lackluster- no dramatic pleas, no eloquent appeals, just reasonable plodding David Boies arguing facts, and Impeachment plotter Ted Olson arguing lies. Horrifyingly, Boies missed the most powerful arguments: that this business of equal protection- that they couldn’t allow the vote to go on because the counting methods weren’t strictly equal- is insane. Under that standard, the Supreme Court would have to invalidate every election ever held in America- every one of them was held with “different standards being applied.” All humans and procedures are fallible- we do the best we can, which in this instance was hand counts. Most contemptible was the parade of “moderate” Republicans: Dole, Whitman, Pataki going to Florida and parroting the Party-line lie: that hand counts can’t be trusted and aren’t accurate. The improper use the equal protection, the historic remedy for civil rights, by this court that has spit on affirmative action, is another turn of the knife and gesture of contempt, especially after the massive disenfranchisement of blacks in Florida.
Boies should have blasted them for taking this case, for injecting themselves into a matter that they had no business: the conduct of a state’s election. He should have implored + chastised them, in the greatest rhetorical heights, to consider the practical injustice of their rash and reckless conduct- instead of niggling over details of arcane Constitutional law. He should have warned them that they were destroying the sacred tenet of separation of powers. Scalia repeated the latest Republican Red Herring, that it wouldn’t be fair to not count the overvotes (invalidated double votes)- knowing full well that the overvotes are spoiled and unsalvageable*, something Tim Russert repeatedly asked an amazed David Boies the previous night. This is a spectacular example of conservative activism that dwarfs anything they profess to criticize, although they tried to cloak their radical usurpation of state’s rights as curbing judicial authority (when it was the greatest abuse of judicial authority in the last Century). Coupled with Scalia’s son partnership with the lead Bush attorney and Thomas’s wife’s Bush employment, it is a crime that will live in infamy- corruptly handing the Presidency to the manifestly undeserving loser from the Court’s party in a blatant political sham.
But what it bodes for the future is more ominous. This court, in one fell swoop, effectively packed itself - already 7 of 9 Republican- the next President will appoint 1-3 Justices – if they are the caliber of Clarence Thomas- who has asked one question in 9 years and virtually never voted differently than Scalia; or Rehnquist- who helped disenfranchise blacks as a election official in Arizona, we all have reason to fear the loss of our liberties. For years, the only reason this conservative Court hasn’t overturned Roe vs Wade or Miranda has been the projected firestorm of public fury at the abrogation of rights people believe they deserve. There has been little such reaction from an exhausted and detached populace, half of whom didn’t even vote. This radical, unjustified, unsupported, cynical, contemptuous ruling could be the Court’s breakout into a slew of crushing conservative rulings, endangering our most treasured freedoms. If they can get away with this- corruptly delivering the Presidency to their patron’s son- what can’t they do? This is the most foul corrupt act the Judiciary can commit, no Supreme Court has ever dared to rule on a Presidential election before, and its stink will last centuries.
* Their point was undoubtedly to delay and
block counting, but they were right: the overvotes contained tens of thousands
of extra legitimate votes, although they
were overwhelmingly for Gore.
Michael Hammerschlag has written commentaries for Seattle Times, Providence Journal, Honolulu Advertiser; Moscow News, Tribune, and + Guardian in Russia; was a TV reporter and produced documentaries. He’s written the story of How the Networks Got It Wrong. His website is http://mikehammer.tripod.com