The Supreme Court: Who will play daddy?

By Joan Walsh

Topics: Joan Walsh

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Thank you for a very thoughtful and wise analysis of the situation. One can only hope that Justice Scalia’s heavy-handed opinion has alienated him from the crucial swing voting justices (Kennedy and O’Connor) and that they might rule in favor of Gore, in part, to rebuke him and restore some credibility to the now-battered Supreme Court. We should know pretty soon. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. “Daddy” may not have left the building yet.

– Kirk Moon

Justice Scalia considers himself a strict Constitutional textualist, believing that the Constitution and its laws can be understood solely by reference to their actual words, rather than more modern judicial interpretation or shifting historical circumstances. In fact, in his dissent in the 1992 review of Roe vs. Wade (Planned Parenthood vs. Casey), he argued that a privacy-based right to abortion doesn’t exist in the Constitution. Duh. Given his Baptist fundamentalist-like Constitutional reasoning, how, with intellectual honesty, can he possibly pretend to adjudicate issues concerning modern voting methods, such as Vote-A-Matics and optical scanners? They certainly weren’t mentioned in the Constitution!

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The one issue we seem to be overlooking is that until the modern era, ballots were counted by hand, and no one had a problem with electing a president that way. In fact, Bush’s lawyers, in part, base their arguments on election case law in which manual ballot counts were the standard. Now methodology is being excoriated by them in deference to potentially more objective, yet also potentially less accurate, voting devices. It’s obvious: Manual recounts should still be valid in extremely close elections.

– William Nathan

Oh please, let’s not confuse order with the shibboleth “paternalism.” Does Joan Walsh really suppose that if the hand count, flawed by lack of common standards, did show Gore the winner and then the Supreme Court ruled that the votes didn’t count that we wouldn’t have something short of mayhem?

It seems to me Scalia did act the parent that maintains order as a birthday party gets out of order. More seriously, I think the Founding Fathers would approve. They did realize that sometimes citizens have to be protected from themselves.

– Robert Stanley

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