ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED DECEMBER 13, 2000
Sports fans know boxing manager Joe Jacobs' immortal phrase from 1932: “We Wuz Robbed!” Today, December 13th, 2000, many Americans feel just like Joe.
I didn't vote for Al Gore. And many clear-minded Americans who feel the way I do about the Supreme Court verdict in "George W. Bush v. Al Gore, Jr." also didn't vote for the Vice President. Several voted for Mr. Bush.
Regardless of whom you voted for, fair-minded Americans see a staggering flaw in the basic premise of yesterday's Court ruling: "Because it is evident that any recount seeking to meet the December 12 date will be unconstitutional ... we reverse the judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida ordering the recount to proceed." Clearly the Justices were considering a recount. But, aw shucks, the clock ran out. In other words, the highest court in the land has vindicated the Republican politics of delay and destruction! This is a travesty.
Now that every honest Republican can drop this rhetorical veneer of "principle" and "fairness" and get real about their motives, it's time to admit what the strategy was about from the get-go: delay, delay, delay. As in Tom DeLay. As in appeals, as in obstruction, as in outright intimidation.
George W. Bush has been "made," not elected, our de facto President, not only after losing the national popular vote, but also after failing to definitively win the Florida popular vote. Bipartisan impartial studies of the contested ballots in the next few months will reveal a singular fact: by even the most stringent standards (an actual punch in the ballot), Al Gore won more votes than George Bush in the state of Florida. The Big Discoveries will be these: 1. All bona fide Florida votes were NOT counted; 2. All Florida voting machines were NOT accurate; 3. Both Democrats and Republicans were guilty of not fully punching ballots; 4. The Republican Party engaged in criminal intimidation of Miami Dade canvassers, which cost Al Gore hundreds of votes; 5. The full statewide manual recount, which the Florida Supreme Court mandated, and which the Republican-dominated Supreme Court voided, would have given Florida to Gore.
But back to the friends of fairness on the US Supreme Court.
JUSTICE THOMAS: HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN DRED SCOTT?
Perhaps slipping onto the highest bench in the world, despite the damning testimony of Anita Hill, has made you feel even more beholden to your Republican protectors, who defended you vociferously against the lascivious truths of your incorrigible immorality. When Mr. Clinton came up against similar charges, the Republican leadership turned against him with the righteous indignation of a WCTU prohibitionist. Yes, the hypocrisies never cease.
Justice Thomas, back in 1857, Dred Scott merely asked that he receive the protections given to all Americans, as proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence and more or less guaranteed in our Constitution. But the highest court denied him those rights in a case that has gone down in infamy. And on December 12th, 2000, nearly 50,000 voters in Florida, of all races, all creeds, several parties, merely asked that their votes be counted, as decreed by federal law, the US Constitution, the Florida Supreme Court, and the Florida legislature. And you, like Justice Taney in Dred Scott versus Sandford, like Justice Brown in Plessy versus Ferguson, you, sir, refused them. Shame on you.
The Republicans, like the defendants in Dred Scott and Plessy, disguised their aims under the transparent cover of loaded buzzwords -- in this case, words like "fairness" and "equality" -- though any clear-thinking observer could see that the Republicans feared one thing only: that the voice of the Florida voter would be heard. They knew Al Gore had more votes than George W. Bush (otherwise, why protest the recount?). And they went to extraordinary lengths, including outright intimidation of canvassing boards, to keep that truth from becoming public. And you Justice Thomas enabled the Bush team in their Machiavellian deception by intervening just when the actual truth was about to become known.
And on what disingenuous premise did Mr. Bush base his facile claim for disenfranchisement? "Inconsistency of standards." Here's where you, sir, and your Republican benefactors, and your fellow assenting Justices, become laughable.
1. Evidently the standards for manual recounts were perfectly fine in those counties where manual recounts brought in higher totals for Mr. Bush, even though the standards differed from county to county.
2. Evidently inconsistency wasn't a problem in Seminole and Martin counties where, in an unusual and clearly illegal move, Republican party operatives were allowed to alter absentee voter registration forms, but Democrats were not given and did not choose the same privilege.
3. Clearly inconsistency wasn't a problem in cases where Republicans argued that overseas ballots should be accepted, even though they were not postmarked or stamped, and displayed other inconsistencies that separated them from normal overseas ballots.
Inconsistency is only a problem, it seems, when it affects Republicans materially. Just as with you, Justice Thomas, the Republicans are willing to let standards slide when to do so protects their interests. They got a good deal with you, sir. You tow that Republican line without fail and without complaint--no doubt out of extreme gratitude, and, like the infamous Justice Brown, with "a view to the promotion of their comfort." They are getting a good deal from their other supporters on the US Supreme Court too, whose decision yesterday will go down with Dred Scott and Plessy as a low point in our judicial history.
As with Dred Scott and Plessy, time will show how wrong you were. Time will show that Al Gore won this election fair and square. As fair and square as a punched chad on an uncounted Florida ballot.