Court was partisan

Posted: Monday, December 17, 2001

As another person, like Nina Mollett, happy to describe myself as a "democracy partisan," I hope I can answer Richard Schmitz' questions and correct some factual errors in his letter.

He wonders what the point of Ms. Mollett's essay was. It was clearly stated: to mark the anniversary of the only occasion an American presidential election has been hijacked from its constitutional framework by political partisans on the Supreme Court an event of considerable historical and political significance.

Mr. Schmitz wonders how a Gore victory would have been any more valid. A Gore win would have been based on decisions within a state's court system: the place where state electoral law has always been adjudicated.

Mr. Schmitz states that a media count confirmed Bush's entitlement to Florida's electoral votes. He is right that one did, but the many media counts of selected ballots have produced results in favor of both Bush and Gore.

The 2000 election was not a "statistical dead heat" as Mr. Schmitz contends. Well over half a million more Americans voted for Mr. Gore than voted for Mr. Bush. Not a landslide, but a clear preference on the part of the nation's electorate.

Mr. Schmitz states: "a winner (was) declared according to the Constitution." In fact, that's the problem: the Constitution calls for the resolution of such matters in the Congress. The fact that five Republicans on the Supreme Court used a constitutionally absurd and transparently partisan decision to award the presidency to a political party mate in a procedure clearly outside of the constitutional framework is exactly why this event is so noteworthy.

The Republicans' fondest hope is that Americans will "get over it" and "move on." Considering the typical American's uninterest in political issues that is distressingly likely to happen.

But for political nonpartisans like myself, for "democracy partisans" who value the integrity of America's system of electoral democracy, the Republicans' use of their partisans on the Supreme Court to seize a political office they could not claim by the consent of the governed at the ballot box will truly live in infamy. The Republicans did more real and lasting damage to the "American way" during November and December 2000 than the Japanese did on Dec. 7, 1941, or Osama bin Laden did on Sept. 11, 2001.

That should never be forgotten. And I'm glad Ms. Mollett made the effort to remind us.

Donald R. Douglas


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