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"When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it."
- Clarence Darrow
Nader: N.C. isn't open to 3rd-party presence
The Charlotte Observer - By ANNA GRIFFIN - March 11, 2001
Presidential candidate and consumer advocate Ralph Nader got a rock star's welcome, complete with whooping crowds and homemade posters, when he made a promotional swing through Chapel Hill and Elon College this past week.
But the Green Party leader believes the state of North Carolina will continue acting like conservative parents who doesn't want Nader or his message allowed under their roof.
Nader received 2.6 million votes in the presidential election, but wasn't allowed on the ballot in North Carolina. Nor were his write-in votes counted. State law requires candidates whose parties didn't get 10 percent in the previous election to submit signatures totaling 2 percent of the total votes cast, or 51,324 last year. Candidates also must submit 500 certified signatures by an August deadline to have their write-in votes count.
"You've got the most severe ballot access restriction in the country, and I don't expect that to change," Nader said. "It's just one big, open conspiracy by the Republican and Democratic parties to exclude competition. If the parties were in the business world, they'd be indicted for violation of the anti-trust law - and convicted."
Nader is the biggest single reason behind the Green Party's growth both nationally and statewide. (In North Carolina, the party has gone from 40 members a year ago to 1,200 today.) Nader's presidential campaign peaked in the weeks before the election, with a series of arena appearances with celebrities such as actress Susan Sarandon and movie director Michael Moore.
Yet he captured just 3percent of the vote, short of the 5 percent needed to earn public campaign funds in 2004. And many Democrats, including former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, blame Nader for Al Gore's loss. The Green Party got 97,000 votes in Florida.
In an interview with The Observer during his N.C. visit, Nader again rejected the suggestion that he hurt the Democratic Party. He praised U.S. Sen. John Edwards. And he urged North Carolina to eliminate hog and tobacco farms.
Q. This is Jesse Helms' back yard. How many votes do you think you would have gotten had you been on the ballot? What would your message have been if you'd been able to campaign here?
A. 100,000. I would have talked about the big hog farms, and radioactive waste disposal, the lack of living wages for workers, the institutionalized, anti-union laws of the state, the poor representation you have in Congress.
Q. We have one person in Washington, John Edwards, who's been talked about as a Democratic presidential candidate
A. Yes, he's the exception to the poor representation. He's not ashamed to stand up for the civil justice system, which is the pillar of our democracy, and allows wrongfully injured people to take their perpetrators to court and help make this society safer for all of us. He will be an even better senator in the post-Helms era.
Q. So you think the idea of Edwards running for president is a good one?
A. Yes, it's a good idea. But you have to make sure that as he runs, the faster he runs, the less he changes. He shouldn't take any PAC money.
Q. You didn't hit your goal of 5 percent last November. Do you consider what happened a victory? And do you continue to reject the notion that you contributed to Bush winning and Gore losing?
A. Our showing was a victory, although the Democrats really took away half our votes in the last month with their incredible scare tactics.
Gore slipped on 20 banana peels, each of which cost him the election. Tennessee cost him the election; Arkansas cost him the election. Democrat-controlled counties in South Florida that didn't recount the votes in time for the Florida Supreme Court deadline cost him the election. Why pick on one?
Q. You mentioned hog farms a few minutes ago. What should we do here in North Carolina about our hog farms?
A. The short answer is, `Get rid of them.' These are nuisances. They're contaminating groundwater, they make breathing miserable, they pollute air, they have these lagoons that if they break they can contaminate thousands and thousands of acres. And what's their redeeming value? To make a company richer.
Q. What about the tobacco industry?
A. Shift to industrial hemp. It's grown and imported into the U.S. from France, China, Romania, Canada. It's a total medieval superstition that it's in any way connected to marijuana addiction.
Q. It seems like we're in this cycle as a state: We relied on tobacco for so long, to the point that government started subsidizing it. Now that the industry is in trouble, we're directly linked to it, whether we like it or not. How do you break the chain?
A. It's a situation that, as you said, has a long history to it. But people die every minute from it, so are we a rational and health-conscious society or aren't we?
If we were, it would pay to put all the tobacco farmers on an annuity. We'd pay them to move into other fields, and to get out of the business.
Q. There are bills pending in the N.C. legislature to change the law regarding third parties getting on the ballot. Are you at all optimistic about that happening?
A. No, not at all. As one leading Georgia Democrat asked me last year, `Why are we working to create our own competitors?' I said, `You know, sir, there are some fellows in overseas countries who have taken that philosophy to the next level. Do you know what they call those countries?' He didn't have a good answer for that, but I do believe they call those dictatorships.
Duke Energy Employee Advocate - March 10, 2001
Ralph Nader addressed the problem of weak union laws:
Ralph Nader: There is power in a union
Another take on the Bush tax cut
The Dallas Morning News - by Scott Burns - February 20, 2001
It was the muffler heard round the world.
In a press briefing Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said a wealthy taxpayer would be able to buy a new Lexus with his tax cut while a $50,000 earner would be able to buy a new muffler for his used car. The comment was repeated ad nauseum in the media.
The media, true to form, lunged for the sound bite and left everything else behind. None of us got to hear what Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Mr. Daschle wanted to communicate.
In fact, the two senators have some compelling misgivings about the size and distribution of the tax cut President Bush has proposed. Here are their basic concerns:
The tax cut is too large. They argue that the $1.6 trillion cut in the Bush plan is a lowball figure. The actual cost, they say, will be substantially higher. They reckon the true cost at a cool trillion dollars more.
That's quite a difference.
The true cost of the Bush plan, the senators say, is $2.6 trillion. The additional costs include: $200 billion to make the cut retroactive; another $200 billion to reform the Alternative Minimum Tax; $100 billion to extend expiring tax provisions; and $500 billion for additional interest the Treasury will have to pay because paying off the national debt will take longer. (As the late Sen. Everett Dirksen, R-Ill., said, "A billion here, a billion there, and sooner or later it adds up to real money.")
The most recent Congressional Budget Office projections of the surplus total $5.6 trillion over the next 10 years. But a closer look shows that $2.5 trillion will be in the Social Security trust fund and $0.4 trillion will be in the Medicare trust fund, a total of $2.9 trillion. Subtract that from the $5.6 trillion total surplus, and the surplus available for a tax cut is $2.7 trillion.
That's only $100 billion more than the Democratic senators' reckoning of what the Bush plan will cost, $2.6 trillion. Since $100 billion is a rounding error in government, there won't be a dime for contingencies or new programs. There also won't be any room for error or recession.
There will be no debt reduction. If 100 percent of the actual surplus is committed to a tax cut, there will be no money to reduce the national debt. If we fail to reduce the portion of the national debt held by the public, we will be ill prepared for the surge in retirement costs when baby boomers retire.
Ironically, paying down the debt is also a way of financing a tax cut. As I pointed out in an earlier column (read it on my Web site at www.scottburns.com/001105SU.htm), net interest costs absorb about 25 percent of federal income tax collections. Pay off the federal debt and you can cut income taxes 25 percent.
The surplus may not exist. "As we all know, projections are no better than weather forecasts. And if we are prepared to accept weather forecasts for five or 10 years out, I suppose we ought to accept these projections. But the ramifications of being wrong on these projections are far worse than being wrong on a weather forecast." That's what Mr. Daschle said in a Feb. 7 news briefing. A small change in our rate of growth could make the surplus disappear.
The tax cut is unfair. As he sees it, the bottom 80 percent of all earners will get only 29 percent of the tax cut while the top 20 percent will get the remainder. The top 1 percent, he says, will get 43 percent of the benefits.
In a recent telephone conversation, the senator told me he was disappointed by how much substance had been lost in media reporting of the press briefing. "This has huge ramifications. We ought to give it the debate it deserves," he said.
I asked what he would like to see as an alternative.
"Most likely, our proposal will have three components. One will be pay-down of government debt. Another will be a tax cut," he said.
The third – and he is proposing an even, three-way division – would be "investments in key priorities," i.e. New spending.
Who would get the tax cut?
Although the details are far from final, Mr. Daschle is thinking about a tax "dividend" that would offset a portion of the payroll tax. This would lower the total tax burden of the 93 percent of all workers who earn less than the $80,000 maximum on the employment tax.
SENATE CONFIRMS LESLIE B. KRAMERICH
PWBA - December 20, 2000
TO ASSISTANT SECRETARY POST
The U. S. Senate has confirmed Leslie B. Kramerich to the post of assistant secretary of labor for the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration. Kramerich had been acting assistant secretary since last December.
Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman said Kramerich "is a strong leader in our efforts to protect the retirement and health benefits of millions of Americans."
Kramerich oversees more than 6.7 million employee benefit plans with assets totaling more than $4.9 trillion. She is responsible for carrying out administrative, policy, enforcement and regulatory functions under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
Before joining the Labor Department, Kramerich was with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation for five years. Her background also includes private legal practice with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand, various legislative positions with the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health, the Senate Aging Committee and the House Committee on Aging. She also was a consultant to AARP.
Kramerich graduated from Case Western Reserve University and earned a Juris Doctor from Ohio State University College of Law in 1984. She is a member of the Ohio State Bar, District of Columbia Bar and the American Bar Association.
PWBA Press Release
Medal of Honor
The New York Times - December 15, 2000
When Al Gore was in Vietnam he never saw much combat. Throughout his presidential campaign, though, he insisted he wanted to "fight" for every American. Well, Wednesday night, in his concession speech, Mr. Gore took a bullet for the country.
The shot was fired at the heart of the nation by the five conservative justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, with their politically inspired ruling that installed George W. Bush as president. The five justices essentially said that it was more important that Florida meet its self-imposed deadline of Dec. 12 for choosing a slate of electors than for the Florida Supreme Court to try to come up with a fair and uniform way to ensure that every possible vote in Florida was counted - and still meet the real federal deadline, for the nationwide Electoral College vote on Dec. 18. The five conservative justices essentially ruled that the sanctity of dates, even meaningless ones, mattered more than the sanctity of votes, even meaningful ones. The Rehnquist court now has its legacy: "In calendars we trust."
You don't need an inside source to realize that the five conservative justices were acting as the last in a team of Republican Party elders who helped drag Governor Bush across the finish line. You just needed to read the withering dissents of Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens, who told the country exactly what their five colleagues were up to - acting without legal principle or logic and thereby inflicting a wound, said Justice Breyer, "that may harm not just the court, but the nation."
Or, as the Harvard moral philosopher Michael Sandel put it: "Not only did the court fail to produce any compelling argument of principle to justify its ruling. But, on top of that, the conservative majority contradicted its long-held insistence on protecting states' rights against federal interference. That's why this ruling looks more like partisanship than principle. And that's why many will conclude that the five conservative justices voted twice for president - once in November and once in December."
Which brings us back to Mr. Gore and his concession speech. It was the equivalent of taking a bullet for the country, because the rule of law is most reinforced when - even though it may have been imposed wrongly or with bias - the recipient of the judgment accepts it, and the system behind it, as final and legitimate. Only in that way - only when we reaffirm our fidelity to the legal system, even though it rules against us - can the system endure, improve and learn from its mistakes. And that was exactly what Mr. Gore understood, bowing out with grace because, as he put it, "This is America, and we put country before party."
If Chinese or Russian spies are looking for the most valuable secret they can steal in Washington, here's a free tip: Steal Al Gore's speech. For in a few brief pages it contains the real secret to America's sauce. That secret is not Wall Street and it's not Silicon Valley, it's not the Air Force and it's not the Navy, it's not the free press and it's not the free market - it is the enduring rule of law and institutions that underlie them all, and that allows each to flourish no matter who is in power.
One can only hope that Mr. Bush also understands that the ultimate strength of America and the impact it has on the world does not come from all the military systems he plans to expand (though they too are important), or from Intel's latest microchip. It comes from this remarkable system of laws and institutions we have inherited - a system, they say, that was designed by geniuses so it could be run by idiots.
Mr. Bush will soon discover that preserving this system is critical not only for America, it is critical for the world. America today is the Michael Jordan of geopolitics. Many envy the institutions and economy that ensure our dominance; others deeply resent us for the same. But all are watching our example - and all understand, at some level, that the stability of the world today rests on the ability of our system and economy to endure.
Al Gore reinforced that system by his graceful concession; Mr. Bush will have to reinforce it by his presidency. Now that the campaign is over, and the system has determined the winner, no one should root for his failure. Because, as Al Gore would say, "This is America," and it's the only one we've got.
Problems Lead U.S. to Nullify Drug Tests
The Wall Street Journal - December 15, 2000
The Department of Health and Human Services is nullifying the results of drug tests on 250 to 300 transportation workers and job applicants who were accused of substituting urine samples. The agency said the samples weren't tested properly.
HHS, in cooperation with the Transportation Department, found problems in about half of the 66 federally certified drug-testing laboratories that test transportation workers. Regulators began inspecting the labs in October, when a case involving a Delta Air Lines pilot raised doubts about the process used to validate samples at a Kansas testing lab that the company uses.
"We certainly believe that people have lost jobs or would not have gotten jobs as a result" of the problem tests, said Robert L. Stephenson, director of the division of workplace programs at HHS's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Matthew Fagnani, president of the Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association, the trade group for drug-testing labs and substance abuse programs, said he wasn't familiar with HHS's action and wasn't prepared to comment.
Mr. Stephenson said roughly half the labs turned up at least one flawed validity test, which is conducted on urine samples to ensure a specimen hasn't been adulterated or substituted in order to beat a drug test. The HHS inspection covered about 13 million specimens taken over the past two years, he said.
HHS plans to direct labs to make sure that employers and medical-review officers -- doctors who oversee such tests -- are notified of the cancelled results, Mr. Stephenson said. The Transportation Department said any workers whose urine samples weren't tested properly would be given federal clearance to return to their old jobs.
"In the interest of fairness, we have to cancel the results," said one Transportation official. He called the flawed tests "dismaying."
In the validity tests, labs measure levels of creatinine, a metabolite in urine, to verify that a urine sample is bona fide. Under federal guidelines, a reading of 5.0 milligrams per decaliter or less is deemed to be substitution of a sample -- in effect, cheating on the test.
HHS said the problem with the tests in question was that the labs' creatinine measurements weren't specific enough to meet federal guidelines, because they were reported only in whole numbers, rather than to a decimal point as required by regulations. As a result, a reading of 5.7 or 5.9, which wouldn't be considered substitution under the federal rules, might be shortened to 5.
The nullified test results came to light as the Transportation Department unveiled rules intended to encourage more accurate drug testing of transportation employees and to ensure that workers have an opportunity to challenge results.
The rules, which cover 8.5 million transportation workers nationwide, from truckers to pipeline operators, give employees greater opportunity to challenge validity tests and direct companies not to contract with labs that have violated federal drug-testing guidelines. Most of the provisions take effect in August, though some take effect next month.
The new rules are "a mixed bag," said Robert Morus, a spokesman for the Airline Pilots Association. "There are some good things, but they didn't settle all the issues. . . . There's a serious crisis in the [drug-]testing business, and they [federal officials] seem to not want to reveal how serious it is."
Nader has no regrets about running against Gore
CNN - December 15, 2000
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, accused by some Democrats of winning votes that cost Vice President Al Gore the election, said on Thursday he had no regrets now that Republican George W. Bush had won the election.
"The regret is that I didn't get more votes," Nader told CNN's "Larry King Live," underscoring his commitment to building a new party that would change the U.S. political scene and provide a progressive alternative to the Democratic Party.
"It's a bit presumptuous to have that sense that, just because you are a new party, somehow you have got to work to help elect someone other (as) president," Nader said.
Nader acknowledged some differences between the Democrats and Republicans, but said both parties were handing more and more power over to big corporations.
"We know who makes the decisions on the Food and Drug Administration, and on the auto safety agency, Department of Defense, Treasury Department, Commerce, Agriculture," he said.
"It's the 22,000 corporate lobbyists who are swarming over the city and the 9,000 political action committees that are funneling money to both parties."
The "Gore Exception"
A Layman's Guide To The Supreme Court Decision In Bush V. Gore
Mark Levine, Attorney at Law - December 13, 2000
Q: I'm not a lawyer and I don't understand the recent Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore. Can you explain it to me?
A: Sure. I'm a lawyer. I read it. It says Bush wins, even if Gore got the most votes.
Q: But wait a second. The US Supreme Court has to give a reason, right?
Q: So Bush wins because hand-counts are illegal?
A: Oh no. Six of the justices (two-thirds majority) believed the hand-counts were legal and should be done.
Q: Oh. So the justices did not believe that the hand-counts would find any legal ballots?
A. Nope. The five conservative justices clearly held (and all nine justices agreed) "that punch card balloting machines can produce an unfortunate number of ballots which are not punched in a clean, complete way by the voter." So there are legal votes that should be counted but can't be.
Q: Oh. Does this have something to do with states' rights? Don't conservatives love that?
A: Yes. These five justices have held that the federal government has no business telling a sovereign state university it can't steal trade secrets just because such stealing is prohibited by law. Nor does the federal government have any business telling a state that it should bar guns in schools. Nor can the federal government use the equal protection clause to force states to take measures to stop violence against women.
Q: Is there an exception in this case?
A: Yes, the "Gore exception." States have no rights to control their own state elections when it can result in Gore being elected President. This decision is limited to only this situation.
Q: C'mon. The Supremes didn't really say that. You're exaggerating.
A: Nope. They held "Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, as the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities."
Q: What complexities?
A: They didn't say.
Q: I'll bet I know the reason. I heard Jim Baker say this. The votes can't be counted because the Florida Supreme Court "changed the rules of the election after it was held." Right?
A. Wrong. The US Supreme Court made clear that the Florida Supreme Court did not change the rules of the election. But the US Supreme Court found the failure of the Florida Court to change the rules was wrong.
A: The Legislature declared that the only legal standard for counting vote is "clear intent of the voter." The Florida Court was condemned for not adopting a clearer standard.
Q: I thought the Florida Court was not allowed to change the Legislature's law after the election.
Q: So what's the problem?
A: They should have. The US Supreme Court said the Florida Supreme Court should have "adopt[ed] adequate statewide standards for determining what is a legal vote"
Q: I thought only the Legislature could "adopt" new law.
Q: So if the Court had adopted new standards, I thought it would have been overturned.
A: Right. You're catching on.
Q: If the Court had adopted new standards, it would have been overturned for changing the rules. And if it didn't, it's overturned for not changing the rules? That means that no matter what the Florida Supreme Court did, legal votes could never be counted if they would end up with a possible Gore victory.
A: Right. Next question.
Q: Wait, wait. I thought the problem was "equal protection," that some counties counted votes differently from others. Isn't that a problem?
A: It sure is. Across the nation, we vote in a hodgepodge of systems. Some, like the optical-scanners in largely Republican-leaning counties record 99.7% of the votes. Some, like the punchcard systems in largely Democratic-leaning counties record only 97% of the votes. So approximately 3% of Democratic-leaning votes are thrown in the trash can.
Q: Aha! That's a severe equal-protection problem!!!
A: No it's not. The Supreme Court wasn't worried about the 3% of Democratic-leaning ballots thrown in the trashcan in Florida. That "complexity" was not a problem.
Q: Was it the butterfly ballots that violated Florida law and tricked more than 20,000 Democrats to vote for Buchanan or both Gore and Buchanan?
A: Nope. The Supreme Court has no problem believing that Buchanan got his highest, best support in a precinct consisting of a Jewish old age home with Holocaust survivors, who apparently have changed their mind about Hitler.
Q: Yikes. So what was the serious equal protection problem?
A: The problem was neither the butterfly ballot nor the 3% of Democrats (largely African-American) disenfranchised. The problem is that somewhat less than .005% of the ballots (100 to 300 votes) may have been determined under slightly different standards because judges sworn to uphold the law and doing their best to accomplish the legislative mandate of "clear intent of the voter" may have a slightly different opinion about the voter's intent, even though a single judge was overseeing the entire process to resolve any disputes.
Q: A single judge? I thought the standards were different. I thought that was the whole point of the Supreme Court opinion.
A: Judge Terry Lewis, who received the case upon remand from the Florida Supreme Court, had already ordered each of the counties to fax him their standards so he could be sure they were uniform when the US Supreme Court stopped him from counting the uncounted votes (favoring Gore). Republican activists did their best to send junk faxes to Lewis in order to prevent him from standardizing the process in a way that could justify the vote counting. They succeeded.
Q: Hmmm. Well, even if those .005% of difficult-to-tell votes are thrown out, you can still count the votes where everyone, even Republicans, agrees the voter's intent is clear, right?
Q: Why not?
A: No time.
Q: I thought the Supreme Court said that the Constitution was more important than speed.
A: It did. It said, "The press of time does not diminish the constitutional concern. A desire for speed is not a general excuse for ignoring equal protection guarantees."
Q: Well that makes sense. So there's time to count the votes when the intent is clear and everyone is treated equally then. Right?
A: No. The Supreme Court won't allow it.
Q: But they just said that the constitution is more important than time!
A: You forget. There is the "Gore exception."
Q: No time to count legal votes where everyone, even Republicans, agree the intent is clear? Why not?
A: Because December 12 was yesterday.
Q: Is December 12 a deadline for counting votes?
A: No. January 6, 2001 is the deadline. In the Election of 1960, Hawaii's votes weren't counted until January 4, 1961
Q: So why is December 12 important?
A: December 12 is a deadline by which Congress can't challenge the results.
Q: What does the Congressional role have to do with the Supreme Court?
A: Nothing. In fact, some 20 states still (as of December 13, 2000) haven't turned in their results.
Q: But I thought ---
A: The Florida Supreme Court had earlier held it would like to complete its work by December 12 to make things easier for Congress. The United States Supreme Court is trying to "help" the Florida Supreme Court out by forcing the Florida court to abide by a deadline that everyone agrees is not binding.
Q: But I thought the Florida Court was going to just barely have the votes counted by December 12.
A: They would have made it, but the five conservative justices stopped the recount last Saturday.
A: Justice Scalia said some of the counts may not be legal.
Q: So why not separate the votes into piles -- indentations for Gore, hanging chads for Bush, votes that everyone agrees went to one candidate or the other -- so that we know exactly how Florida voted before determining who won? Then, if some ballots (say, indentations) have to be thrown out, the American people will know right away who won Florida?
A. Great idea! An intelligent, rational solution to a difficult problem! The US Supreme Court rejected it. (Gore exception) They held that such counts would be likely to produce election results showing Gore won and Gore's winning would cause "public acceptance" and that would "cast a cloud" over Bush's "legitimacy" that would harm "democratic stability."
Q: In other words, if America knows the truth that Gore won, they won't accept the US Supreme Court overturning Gore's victory?
Q: Is that a legal reason to stop recounts? or a political one?
A: Let's just say in all of American history and all of American law, this reason has no basis in law. But that didn't stop the five conservatives from creating new law out of thin air.
Q: Aren't these conservative justices against judicial activism?
A: Yes, when liberal judges are perceived to have done it.
Q: Well, if the December 12 deadline is not binding, why not count the votes afterward?
A: The US Supreme Court, after admitting the December 12 deadline is not binding, set December 12 as a binding deadline at 10 p.m. on December 12.
Q: Didn't the US Supreme Court condemn the Florida Supreme Court for arbitrarily setting a deadline?
Q: But, but --
A: Not to worry. The US Supreme Court does not have to follow laws it sets for other courts.
Q: So who caused Florida to miss the December 12 deadline?
A: The Bush lawyers who, before Gore filed a single lawsuit, went to court to stop the recount; the rent-a-mob in Miami that got paid Florida vacations for intimidating officials; the constant request for delay by Bush lawyers in Florida courts; and, primarily, the US Supreme Court, which both refused to consider Bush's equal protection argument on November 22, 2000 (when the Florida Supreme Court still had time to rectify the count with a uniform standard), then stopped the recount entirely on December 9 (which would have been completed by December 12), and then complained there was no time on December 12 at 10 p.m. to count the votes before midnight.
Q: So who is punished for this behavior?
A: Gore, of course.
Q: Tell me this, are Florida's election laws unconstitutional?
A: Yes, according to the Supreme Court.
Q: And the laws of 50 states that allow votes to be cast or counted differently are unconstitutional?
A: Yes, according to the logic of the Supreme Court opinion. And 33 states have the same "clear intent of the voter" standard that the US Supreme Court found was illegal in Florida
Q: Then why aren't the results of 33 states thrown out?
A: Um. Because…um…..the Supreme Court doesn't say…
Q: But if Florida's certification includes counts expressly declared by the US Supreme Court to be unconstitutional, we don't know who really won the election there, right?
A: Right. But a careful analysis by the Miami Herald shows Gore won Florida by about 23,000 votes (excluding the butterfly ballot errors).
Q: So, what do we do, have a re-vote? throw out the entire state? count under a single uniform standard?
A: No. We just don't count the votes that favor Gore.
Q: That's completely bizarre! That sounds like rank political favoritism! Did the justices have any financial interest in the case?
A: Scalia's two sons are both lawyers at law firms working for Bush. Thomas's wife is collecting applications for people who want to work in the Bush administration.
Q: Why didn't they recuse themselves?
A: If either had recused himself, the vote would have been 4-4, and the Florida Supreme Court decision allowing recounts would have been affirmed.
Q: I can't believe the justices acted in such a blatantly political way.
A: Read the opinions for yourself:
(Can take a long time to load - December 12 opinion)
Q: So what are the consequences of this?
A: The guy who got the most votes in the US and in Florida and under our Constitution (Al Gore) will lose to America's second choice (George W. Bush) who won the all important 5-4 Supreme Court vote, which trumps America's choice
Q: I thought in a democracy, the guy with the most votes wins. At least in the electoral college, shouldn't the guy with the most votes in Florida win?
A: That's true, in a democracy. But America in 2000 is no longer a democracy. In America in 2000, the guy with the most US Supreme Court votes wins. That's why we don't need to count the People's votes in Florida.
Q: So what will happen to the Supreme Court when Bush becomes President?
A: He will appoint more justices in the mode of Thomas and Scalia to ensure that the will of the people is less and less respected. Soon lawless justices may constitute 6-3 or even 7-2 on the court.
Q: Is there any way to stop this?
A: YES. No federal judge can be confirmed without a vote in the Senate. It takes 60 votes to break a filibuster. If only 41 of the 50 Democratic Senators stand up to Bush and his Supremes and say that they will not approve a single judge appointed by him until a President can be democratically elected in 2004, the judicial reign of terror can end….and one day we can hope to return to the rule of law and the will of the people.
Q: What do I do now?
A: Email this to everyone you know, and write or call your Senator, reminding him or her that Gore beat Bush by several hundred thousand votes (three times Kennedy's margin over Nixon) and that you believe that VOTERS rather than JUDGES should determine who wins an election by counting every vote. And to protect our judiciary from overturning the will of the people, you want them to confirm NO NEW JUDGES APPOINTED BY A NON-DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED PRESIDENT until 2004 when a president is finally chosen by the American people, instead of Antonin Scalia.
Mark H. Levine
Attorney at Law
Q: Isn't anyone on the US Supreme Court a rational follower of the rule of law?
A: Yes. Read the four dissents. Excerpts below:
Justice John Paul Stevens (Republican appointed by Ford):
"Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law."
Justice David Souter (Republican appointed by Bush):
"Before this Court stayed the effort to [manually recount the ballots] the courts of Florida were ready to do their best to get that job done. There is no justification for denying the State the opportunity to try to count all the disputed ballots now.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Democrat appointed by Clinton):
Chief Justice Rehnquist would "disrupt" Florida's "republican regime." [In other words, democracy in Florida is imperiled.] The court should not let its "untested prophecy" that counting votes is "impractical" "decide the presidency of the United States."
Justice Steven Breyer (Democrat appointed by Clinton):
"There is no justification for the majority's remedy . . . " We "risk a self-inflicted wound -- a wound that may harm not just the court, but the nation."
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