Supreme Court Almost Called for Fair Election
|January 9, 2007||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
A Near Miss for Democracy
Judge says court was close to backing legitimate vote count, Gore
Sometimes the most interesting articles about events in the USA come from outside the USA. The US vote fraud scandal of the year 2000 still shocks people all over the world. Here, London’s Guardian reports on the US Supreme Court’s decision not to count thousands of citizens’ votes in the 2000 presidential election.
by Michael Ellison
George Bush might have been prevented from entering the White House if a US supreme court judge had had another day to work on persuading his colleagues, according to a new book.
David Kaplan writes in The Accidental President that Justice David Souter met a group of prep-school students one month after the court ruled 5-4 in favour of stopping the Florida vote count, making Mr Bush president rather than Al Gore.
“If he’d had ‘one more day – one more day,’ Souter told the students, he believed he would have prevailed,” says Kaplan, according to an excerpt in this current issue of Newsweek.
“The sands of history will show Bush won by a single vote, cast in a 5-to-4 ruling of the US supreme court,” says the book, touted as the first behind-the-scenes look at how the court handled the fallout from last November’s disputed election “The vote was Tony Kennedy’s. One justice had picked the president.” Justice Kennedy was appointed during the Reagan years.
Justice Souter, installed when George Bush Sr was president, wrote in his dissent from the court’s ruling that it “inevitably cast a cloud over the legitimacy of the election”.
Animosity among the judges broke out while they were the hosts of a visit to Washington by six Russian justices. “In our country,” one of the Russians is quoted as saying, “we wouldn’t let judges pick the president.” Kaplan writes the Russian justice “added that he knew that, in various nations, judges were in the pocket of executive officials – he just didn’t know that was so in the United States.”
Some justices did not spare the Russians their views. “Stephen Breyer was angry and launched into an attack on the decision, right in front of his colleagues. It was ‘the most outrageous, indefensible thing’ the court had ever done, he told the visiting judges. ‘We all agree to disagree, but this is different.’ Breyer was defiant, brimming with confidence that he’d been right in his long dissent.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, another in the minority, also questioned the legitimacy of the judgment. “‘Are we so highly political after all?’ she said. ‘We’ve surely done other things, too, that were activist, but here we’re applying the Equal Protection Clause in a way that would de-legitimise virtually every election in American history.” The clause is intended to ensure equal application of laws.
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