When Politicians And The Courts Cross Paths
"Justice ran out the clock" (Government, Dec. 25/Jan. 1) and "It didn't have to end this way" (Editorials, Dec. 25/Jan. 1) were the clearest statements of outrage I have read on the Supreme Court's Bush vs. Gore decision. The ruling, which recognized the unfairness of machine counts yet deferred to arbitrary deadlines to prevent a fair manual count, can only be viewed dubiously.
Yet the insistence on equal protection has already opened doors to better federal oversight of the voting process, as "Lessons of the fiasco" (Government, Dec. 25/Jan. 1) describes. The court should now be made to consider requiring all states to assign their electors for President proportionally. Currently, votes for the loser in most states are effectively counted as votes for the winner, which surely violates any equal-protection standard.
Were it not for the Supreme Court decision "ending" the election by reversing the Florida court, the case would still be pending. Consider: The Florida legislature is responsible for setting standard(s) for legal ballots, not the courts. As every recount proceeded, Bush won; Gore sued to "change" (read, lower) the standard. Any standard unchanged from the original would produce a suit from Gore. Any changed standard for a "prior" election may have been illegal and produced a suit from Bush. It would be many weeks before a decision was reached, contested, adjudicated, and decided. The Supreme Court acted with restraint, reasonableness, and expedience, ending the litigation and allowing the winner to proceed.