Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Day That Will Live in Infamy

The Day the Presidency Was Stolen from Al Gore and the American People: December 12, 2000, and the Supreme Court Coup

"About 10 p.m. EST on
December 12, the United States Supreme Court handed down its ruling in favor of Bush by a 5–4 vote, effectively ending the legal review of the vote count with Bush in the lead. Seven of the nine justices cited differing vote-counting standards from county to county and the lack of a single judicial officer to oversee the recount, both of which, they ruled, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution."
  • The Fateful Moment in the Silent Coup That Stole a Presidency

From: Judith E. Schaeffer, Legal Director, People For the American Way

Re: Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court and the 2008 Election Season

Seven years ago, the United States Supreme Court issued its 5-4 decision in Bush v. Gore. By stopping the contested vote count in Florida on December 12, 2000, the conservative wing of the Supreme Court effectively gave the presidency to George W. Bush and took the decision away from the voters.

Less than one year from now, the voters will decide the future of the Supreme Court. The next appointments to the Court will almost certainly be made by the President elected in November 2008, and confirmed by a Senate with new members elected in the same cycle. It’s crucial that voters understand that their votes will help determine the shape of the Court for many years to come, and the anniversary of Bush v. Gore is a timely opportunity to raise the issue for your readers.

Bush v. Gore demonstrated all too clearly that the Supreme Court has a profound and lasting effect on the daily lives of all Americans, who look to the Supreme Court as a fair arbiter of the law and our nation’s highest values.

Since that decision, President Bush’s lifetime appointments of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito have pushed the Court even farther to the right. The two men are likely to serve for many decades, ensuring that President Bush’s influence will extend long past the end of his term. Their nominations and confirmations to the Court illustrate the grave importance election results have on shaping the Court.

On issues ranging from reproductive choice to school integration to fair pay for equal work, the Roberts Court has started to reverse years of progress that most Americans accept as moderate, fair and wise. In the coming years, we can expect more and more rulings outside the mainstream.

It’s no coincidence that the Supreme Court has been a major electoral issue for the Religious Right for the last several election cycles. In order to roll back constitutional protections on privacy rights and church-state separation, the leaders of the movement have been whipping their followers into a fury for years, demanding that candidates pledge to appoint and confirm ultraconservative justices. The result has been a decades-long push by the far right to fill the federal courts with jurists who place a narrow ideological agenda above the rule of law and the Constitution.

The Republican candidates for President have been only too happy to oblige. John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Huckabee have all pledged to appoint justices in the mold of ultraconservative justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas – even when such an appointment would conflict with their own stated positions, such as Guiliani’s professed "pro-choice" stand.

Replacing another moderate justice with a hard-right conservative would be a devastating blow to the principles of fairness and equality that the vast majority of Americans embrace. Another right wing justice added to the ultra-conservative voting bloc of Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas could help reverse decades of precedents, threatening legal rights that Americans take for granted.

It’s time for progressives and moderates to make the same stand at the ballot box, and demand a Supreme Court that reflects mainstream American values: Equality, regardless of race or religion. Fair pay for women and minorities in the workplace. The rights of families to make private medical decisions without government interference. And much, much more.

Mainstream Americans must demand appointments of justices to the court who reflect their values, justices who will apply the law fairly, not ideologically. That will require a fair-minded president, and a Senate majority large enough to confirm progressive nominees.

People For the American Way will be working from now until Election Day to educate voters in key states about the importance of the courts, and how their votes for Senate and President could affect the Court and the nation for decades to come. To kick off our campaign, we’ll be placing
a billboard in Manchester, New Hampshire from December 10th until primary day to highlight the Bush v. Gore anniversary and draw attention to the importance of the courts.

The anniversary of Bush v. Gore is a reminder that courts matter, something that voters should bear in mind throughout the coming election season. The outcome of the next election day may depend on it.

From People for the American Way

A BuzzFlash News Analysis

Get your Al Gore for President Bumper Sticker for $1.50. He may not be running in 2008, but the Nobel Laureate is still President Gore to BuzzFlash. That guy in the White House is just a squatter. Honor President Gore.

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