Supreme Court hands presidency to Bush

By Salon staff

By Letters to the Editor

Published December 13, 2000 8:52AM (EST)

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The events of Tuesday night, Dec. 12, were eerily reminiscent of Election Night and much that transpired since that earlier Tuesday. A nation, expecting a final and decisive result was instead subjected to a ruling that first seemed "too close to call" and was then touted on some networks as a clear victory for Bush and finally, with legal scholars playing the role that pollsters did on Nov. 7, left as just ambiguous enough to be "too close to call" again.

Moreover, watching the unfortunate correspondents with frostbitten hands poring over their precious typed copies of the opinion looking for the clear intent of the justices, I couldn't help but think of hapless officials squinting at ballots and looking for the clear intent of the voter. One reporter even held his copy up to the camera. Let's face it, the court fractured itself in so many directions that it managed to turn a 5-4 decision into something that looked like a tie. When it came down to the highest court of the land's great opportunity to weigh in on this historic election, they dimpled the chad!

-- Rabbi Michael Bernstein

George W. Bush, it appears, has won the presidency by means of a rather cynical strategy. While Al Gore put his faith in the will of the people, the Bush team did not. By pursuing a policy of delay, Bush will become president. This subverts the will of the people and undermines the legitimacy of his claim to the power. Bush and his handlers are counting on the public quickly forgetting just how we've been cheated by our tortured electoral system.

The Supreme Court degraded itself by taking sides in what became, essentially, political questions. Their much-vaunted image of judicial objectivity will be tarnished for years to come. Worse yet, they couldn't even own up to what they were doing. Given the example of how Hawaii's electoral votes were cast in 1960, the Supreme Court could have let the Florida recount proceed, and allowed Congress to decide which slate of electors to certify. There is a precedent for this, but unfortunately, this would not have allowed Antonin Scalia and his ilk to pick the next president.

I wouldn't expect Electoral College "reform" to get very far, either. Bush and the Republicans benefited under the present system, and will now control all three branches of government. They have no incentive to give anything to their political opponents, who, in this case, represented a majority of voters. If anything, Florida Republicans will act to change their election laws to make legal challenges like Gore's much more difficult.

With this kind of attitude toward the American people, chances are that Bush will end up a one-term president.

-- David Sadowski

Now that we know that equal protection is more important than an accurate count, it is time for the Seminole County voter fraud case to be appealed to the Supreme Court on the issue of equal protection violations. Not all the absentee ballots were treated equally and thus they should be thrown out.

-- J.P. Partland

Many of us thought the Supreme Court could be nonpartisan. It is a truly sad time for this country. The man who is to become our president is not the most popular candidate and through legal maneuvering won the Electoral College. He used every technique possible to run out the clock and guarantee that Americans would never know who actually won Florida's popular vote. It now appears that in order to be the elected president of the United States, you don't need the backing of the American people, but rather an exceptional team of lawyers and some judges in your pocket. Five conservative Supreme Court judges halted the Florida recount and then issued their judgment just hours before the Dec. 12 deadline, making it impossible for there ever to be a recount. Shame on the judges and shame on Bush, who is too spineless and, evidently, too "entitled" to want to know the accurate results of the 2000 election.

-- Jennifer Knoll

Words cannot describe how utterly disgusted I am upon hearing the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling. Yes, I am a Gore supporter. Yes, I firmly believe that he is not only the more capable and intelligent leader but the ultimate choice of the American people. Had the recounts gone forward and ultimately proved this to be wrong, I would have been very disappointed but I would have accepted it. The manner in which the outcome of this election has been determined makes a mockery of the very freedom that we hold dear in this country.

When the U.S. Supreme Court does not make every attempt possible to ensure that all votes are counted expeditiously and that all citizens have participated in a fair election, but instead allows the clock to run out, it threatens the tenets of liberty and justice that our Founding Fathers fought so hard to instill into the foundation of this country. I sincerely hope that the American people can rise above the cowardly actions exhibited by the U.S. Supreme Court in this dark hour, and find the strength to build a nation and institution that we can all have faith in for the sake of our collective future.

-- May Lee

Not once since Nov. 7 have I been surprised. The candidates, politicos, media and judiciary all played their roles in the expected partisan fashion. I saw no statesmen here, and no intelligent nonpartisan commentary from our congressmen and senators. The liberal judges voted liberal and the conservatives voted conservative. CNN, MSNBC and the major networks all egged them on in their biases in pursuit of increased ratings. The public opinion polls swayed only in that they stayed with whoever appeared to be ahead at any one moment. There was little understanding of the other man's plight. In the end, one candidate won not because he was the better man, but because his side had more representation in the legislative and judiciary branches of state and federal government. Might won over any consideration of right. If you think Gore would have been any different if the situation was reversed, you're deluding yourself.

If we continue to elect such men, and if we continue to allow them to govern in such a manner, we are all damned and our country suffer.

-- Gregory Dyas

It appears that the Gore recount team has been hoist by its own petard. By asking for only a recount of those counties that are heavily Democratic and then by failing to set (or abide by) a fair standard for what constituted a vote, they left themselves wide open for this ruling by the Supreme Court. If they had called for a statewide recount early in the game and if they had come up with a fair vote standard (with none of the dimpled votes or pregnant chad nonsense), Gore might have prevailed in Florida, with time to spare before the constitutional deadline. Too bad his minions felt the need to act dishonestly to achieve their goal. Their actions left the Supreme Court little choice.

-- Leigh Ann Hicks

As a proud Republican, I am very pleased to not only see George W. Bush get what he deserves, but that he has done it with the utmost poise and professionalism in the face of adversity. Not once did he resort to taking "cheap shots" at our vice president, even though Gore certainly deserved them. I believe he sensed that the majority of America could see that Gore's efforts were mere ploys to try to steal the office that he had rightfully earned.

By the way, your votes were counted ... and counted ... and counted. I believe the chads would be in pain if they had feelings.

The bottom line is, it is better to lose gracefully than to go down making a mockery of your political party. Democrats, can you say political suicide? I knew that you could. Jan. 20 can't come soon enough!

-- Steven R. Nicholls

You characterize the Supreme Court's action as "handing the presidency to Bush." It did not bother you, however, when the Florida Supreme Court rewrote the law to give Gore a chance to steal votes. It also does not bother you that the United States Supreme Court "found" a right to privacy in order to construct the Roe vs. Wade decision.

Unfortunately for liberals, they have to live with the effects of about a 25-year reawakening and march to the right by conservatives. The machinery was put in place to defend the Constitution and that is exactly what the five conservative justices did.

Finally, the United States Supreme Court did not hand the presidency to anyone. It remanded the case back to the Florida Supreme Court with a 7 to 2 vote because it found that what they did was unconstitutional. If Gore does not have time to continue to cheat that is his problem.

-- Lee DeCarolis

The U.S. Supreme Court has saved our nation from the political tomfoolery of the Florida Supreme Court and Al Gore. The system works. Justice has been done. God bless the United States of America.

-- C. Manley

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2000 Elections Al Gore George W. Bush