I have collected below, without
comments, several quotations concerning the December 12, 2000 Supreme
Court decision. Bush v. Gore. I begin with excerpts from the
four dissenting opinions of Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer.
The remaining quotations are from lawyers, journalists and others.
The Compete Opinion at
v. Gore, SC No. 00-949
Justice John Paul Stevens:
... once a state legislature determines to select electors through a popular
vote, the right to have one' s vote counted is of constitutional stature. As the
majority further acknowledges, Florida law holds that all ballots that reveal
the intent of the voter constitute valid votes...
In the interest of finality, however, the majority effectively orders the
disenfranchisement of an unknown number of voters whose ballots reveal their
intent—and are therefore legal votes under state law—but were for some
reason rejected by ballot-counting machines... Thus, nothing prevents the
majority, even if it properly found an equal protection violation, from ordering
relief appropriate to remedy that violation without depriving Florida voters of
their right to have their votes counted. As the majority notes, "[a] desire
for speed is not a general excuse for ignoring equal protection
The Florida Supreme Court ... did what courts do — it decided the case
before it in light of the legislature' s intent to leave no legally cast vote
uncounted. In so doing, it relied on the sufficiency of the general "intent
of the voter" standard articulated by the state legislature, coupled with a
procedure for ultimate review by an impartial judge, to resolve the concern
about disparate evaluations of con-tested ballots. If we assume—as I do—that
the members of that court and the judges who would have carried out its mandate
are impartial, its decision does not even raise a colorable federal question.
What must underlie petitioners' entire federal assault on the Florida
election procedures is an unstated lack of confidence in the impartiality and
capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote
count were to proceed. Otherwise, their position is wholly without merit. The
endorsement of that position by the majority of this Court can only lend
credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the
land. It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system
that is the true backbone of the rule of law. Time will one day heal the wound
to that confidence that will be inflicted by today' s decision. One thing,
however, is certain. 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.
I respectfully dissent.
Justice David Souter:
Unlike the majority, I see no warrant for this Court to assume that Florida
could not possibly comply with this requirement before the date set for the
meeting of electors, December 18.... But as JUSTICE BREYER has pointed out, no
showing has been made of legal overvotes uncounted, and counsel for Gore made an
uncontradicted representation to the Court that the statewide total of
undervotes is about 60,000. To recount these manually would be a tall order, but
before this Court stayed the effort to do that 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 disputed ballots now.
I respectfully dissent.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
.. [D]isagreement with the Florida court' s interpretation of its own State'
s law does not warrant the conclusion that the justices of that court have
legislated. There is no cause here to believe that the members of Florida' s
high court have done less than "their mortal best to discharge their oath
of office," and no cause to upset their reasoned interpretation of Florida
The extraordinary setting of this case has obscured the ordinary principle
that dictates its proper resolution: Federal courts defer to state high courts'
interpretations of their State' s own law. This principle reflects the core of
federalism, on which all agree. "The Framers split the atom of sovereignty.
It was the genius of their idea that our citizens would have two political
capacities, one state and one federal, each protected from incursion by the
I agree with JUSTICE STEVENS that petitioners have not presented a
substantial equal protection claim. Ideally, perfection would be the appropriate
standard for judging the recount. But we live in an imperfect world, one in
which thousands of votes have not been counted. I cannot agree that the recount
adopted by the Florida court, flawed as it may be, would yield a result any less
fair or precise than the certification that preceded that recount...
The Court assumes that time will not permit "orderly judicial review of
any disputed matters that might arise." But no one has doubted the good
faith and diligence with which Florida election officials, attorneys for all
sides of this controversy, and the courts of law have performed their duties.
Notably, the Florida Supreme Court has produced two substantial opinions within
29 hours of oral argument. In sum, the Court' s conclusion that a
constitutionally adequate recount is impractical is a prophecy the Court' s own
judgment will not allow to be tested. Such an untested prophecy should not
decide the Presidency of the United States.
Justice Steven Breyer:
The Court was wrong to take this case. It was wrong to grant a stay. It
should now vacate that stay and permit the Florida Supreme Court to decide
whether the recount should resume...
The majority justifies stopping the recount entirely on the ground that there
is no more time. In particular, the majority relies on the lack of time for the
Secretary to review and approve equipment needed to separate under-votes. But
the majority reaches this conclusion in the absence of any record evidence that
the recount could not have been completed in the time allowed by the Florida
By halting the manual recount, and thus ensuring that the uncounted legal
votes will not be counted under any standard, this Court crafts a remedy out of
proportion to the asserted harm. And that remedy harms the very fairness
interests the Court is attempting to pro-tect. The manual recount would itself
redress a problem of unequal treatment of ballots...
[T]he inability of the Florida courts to conduct the recount on time is, in
significant part, a problem of the Court' s own making. The Florida Supreme
Court thought that the recount could be completed on time, and, within hours,
the Florida Circuit Court was moving in an orderly fashion to meet the deadline.
This Court improvidently entered a stay. As a result, we will never know whether
the recount could have been completed...
The Florida Supreme Court, applying this definition, decided, on the basis of
the record, that respondents had shown that the ballots undercounted by the
voting machines contained enough "legal votes" to place "the
results" of the election "in doubt." Since only a few hundred
votes separated the candidates, and since the "undercounted" ballots
numbered tens of thousands, it is difficult to see how anyone could find this
conclusion unreasonable— however strict the standard used to measure the
voter' s "clear intent." ...
Despite the reminder that this case involves "an election for the
President of the United States," no preeminent legal concern, or practical
concern related to legal questions, required this Court to hear this case, let
alone to issue a stay that stopped Florida' s recount process in its tracks...
[T]he Court is not acting to vindicate a fundamental constitutional
principle, such as the need to protect a basic human liberty. No other strong
reason to act is present. Congressional statutes tend to obviate the need. And,
above all, in this highly politicized matter, the appearance of a split decision
runs the risk of undermining the public' s confidence in the Court itself. That
confidence is a public treasure. It has been built slowly over many years, some
of which were marked by a Civil War and the tragedy of segregation. It is a
vitally necessary ingredient of any successful effort to protect basic liberty
and, indeed, the rule of law itself... [We] risk a self-inflicted wound — a
wound that may harm not just the Court, but the Nation...
I respectfully dissent.
From the Lawyers
We are  Professors of Law at American law schools, from every part of our
country, of different political beliefs. But we all agree that when a bare
majority of the U. S. Supreme Court halted the recount of ballots under Florida
law, the five justices were acting as political proponents for candidate Bush,
not as judges.
It is not the job of a Federal Court to stop votes from being counted.
By stopping the recount in the middle, the five justices acted to suppress
the facts. Justice Scalia argued that the justices had to interfere even
before the Supreme Court hears the Bush team's arguments because the recount
might "cast a cloud upon what [Bush] claims to be the legitimacy of his
election." In other words, the conservative justices moved to avoid
the "threat" that Americans might learn that in the recount, Gore got
more votes than Bush. This is presumably "irreparable" harm
because if the recount proceeded and the truth once became known, it would never
again be possible to completely obscure the facts. But it is not the job
of the courts to polish the image of legitimacy of the Bush presidency by
Preventing disturbing facts from being confirmed. Suppressing the facts to
make the Bush government seem more legitimate is the job of propagandists, not
By taking power from the voters, the Supreme Court has tarnished its own
legitimacy. As teachers whose lives have been dedicated to the rule of
law, we protest.
David Chambers, University of Michigan
William Gould, Stanford Law School|
And 304 additional Law Professors
Released December15, 2000
I am dismayed by this opinion. I have spent my career studying law and the
Constitution as independent from politics. This opinion long way toward proving
me wrong.... There is really very little way to reconcile this opinion other
than that they wanted Bush to win.
Professor of Law
The New York Times, 12/14/00
(Also quoted from "Rivera Live," 12.14)
Two centuries ago, our greatest chief justice, John Marshall, declared that
American was a "government of laws, not men." No longer. The price of
George W. Bush's victory has been the immolation of America's last great
standing institution: the Supreme Court. By elevating politics over principle,
the court revealed itself to be no better than any other institution or actor
that touched this election. Its decision will prompt an attack on the court from
Congress, lower court judges and scholars. And the court has only itself to
The unsigned majority opinion can be summed up simply: It is lawless and
unprecedented. The Supreme Court has never, in its 200-year history, decided
that if ballots cannot be counted with absolute perfection, they cannot be
counted at all. Nor has the court made a habit of intervening in elections in
which the court itself was a central issue. This break with the court's
tradition is even more chilling when we consider that the Rehnquist court has
been built on the rock of respecting states' rights, not interfering with them.
At a time when the presidency and Congress have been rocked by scandals,
Americans needed one institution they could trust. It's too bad the court
couldn't provide it for them.
Neal Kumar Katyal
Assoc. Prof. of Law
The Washington Post 12/14/00
I challenge anyone to tell me with a straight face that Chief Justice William
Rehnquist, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justice Clarence
Thomas and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor would have written this decision to
reverse a judgment of the Florida Supreme Court ordering a manual recount in the
event that Al Gore had a tenuous 150-vote lead in the presidential election.
This is an entirely partisan and political act that led to a great division on
the Supreme Court and will lead to a great division in the country. The U.S.
Supreme Court has done grave damage to the rule of law and to the idea that the
people should govern in a democracy.
Prof. of Law, Georgetown Univ.
The 2000 election has finally ended, but in the worst possible way -- not
with a national affirmation of democratic principle but by the fiat of the five
conservative Supreme Court justices... over the fierce objection of the four
more liberal justices... The conservatives stopped the democratic process
in its tracks, with thousands of votes yet unaccounted, first by ordering an
unjustified stay of the statewide recount of the Florida vote that was already
in progress, and then declaring, in one of the least persuasive Supreme Court
opinions that I have ever read, that there was no time left for the recount to
New York Review of Books
[The Supreme Court majority] played us all for dupes... And, by not even
bothering to cloak their willfulness in legal arguments intelligible to people
of good faith who do not share their view, these four vain men and one vain
woman have not only cast a cloud over the presidency of George W. Bush. They
have, far more importantly, made it impossible for citizens of the United States
to sustain any kind of faith in the rule of law as something larger than the
self-interested political preferences of William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia,
Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, and Sandra Day O'Connor...
The unsigned per curiam opinion in
Bush v. Gore is a shabby
piece of work. Although the justices who handed the election to Bush –
O'Connor and Kennedy – were afraid to sign their names, the opinion unmasks
them more nakedly than any TV camera ever could. To understand the weakness of
the conservatives' constitutional argument, you need only restate it: Its
various strands collapse on themselves. And, because their argument is
tailor-made for this occasion, the conservatives can point to no cases that
directly support it...
What, precisely, is the conservatives' theory? "Having once granted the
right to vote on equal terms, the State may not, by later arbitrary and
disparate treatment, value one person's vote over that of another," they
declare. The citation is Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, the case
that invalidated the poll tax in 1966 on the grounds that it invidiously
discriminated against the poor. But there is no claim here that Florida's
recount law, shared by 32 other states, discriminates against the poor. Indeed,
Florida argued that its scheme is necessary to avoid discrimination against the
poor, because a uniform system of recounting that treated the punch-card ballot
used in poor neighborhoods the same as the optically scanned ballots used in the
rich ones would systematically undercount the votes of poorer voters. By
preventing states from correcting the counting errors that result from different
voting technologies, the conservatives have precipitated a violation of equal
treatment far larger than the one they claim to avoid.
Legal Affairs Editor
The New Republic
December 14, 2000
God Himself couldn't have won this case before the Supreme Court – not with
a dream team of Abraham, Jesus and Mohammed. [The positions of] these five were
written in stone. The is the first case in my lifetime that ever decided by the
court based on of the name of the plaintiff and the name of the defendant. This
was not an ideological split. The ideology favored [a ruling] against equal
protection. We're talking about five justices who let people get executed in
this country on the basis of no standards – [but] on the basis of racial
discrimination. If you had shown this opinion to one-hundred legal scholars
three months ago and asked them, without knowing the names, whether Rehnquist,
Scalia, and Thomas would join an opinion like this, there is not a scholar in
this country that would tell you they would do so. . . These are five republicans who voted for Bush on election day, and voted
again in this decision yesterday. Nothing in the world would have changed those
views. The only thing that might have changed was the [supporting] rationale.
The constant was the Bush victory – the variable was the arguments. Any good
lawyer knows that there are arguments available to be pulled in by clever
lawyers. What these five people did was simply pull in the arguments. They had
the chutzpah to say in this opinion that this was not a principle to be
applied in the future, that it was to be limited to this case because of the
complexities of the equal protection clause. So the next time an equal
protection case comes us before this court it will forget about the fact that it
wrote this decision. This was a decision, as Justice Jackson once said,
"limited for this train and for this ride only." It is a judicial
disgrace, I will never stop criticizing this Supreme Court until the day I die.
This is the most disgraceful Supreme Court decision since Dred Scott.
The "conventional wisdom" emerging immediately after the Court's
ruling seemed to be that the Court, by its political ruling, had only lost a lot
of credibility and altitude in the minds of many people. But these critics
of the ruling, even those who flat-out say the Court "stole" the
election, apparently have not stopped to realize the inappropriateness of their
tepid position vis-á-vis what the Court did. You mean you can steal a
presidential election and your only retribution is that some people don't have
as much respect for you, as much confidence in you? That's all? If,
indeed, the Court, as the critics say, made a politically motivated ruling
(which it unquestionably did), this is tantamount to saying, and it can only
mean, that the Court did not base its ruling on the law. And if this is so
(which again, it unquestionably is), this means that these five Justices deliberately
and knowingly decided to nullify the votes of the 50 million Americans who
voted for Al Gore and to steal the election for Bush. Of course, nothing
could be more serious in its enormous ramifications. The stark reality,
and I say this with every fiber of my being, is that the institution Americans
trust the most to protect its freedoms and principles committed one of the
biggest and most serious crimes this nation has ever seen -- pure and simple,
the theft of the presidency. And by definition, the perpetrators of this
crime have to be denominated criminals....
That an election for an American President can be stolen by the highest court
in the land under the deliberate pretext of an inapplicable constitutional
provision has got to be one of the most frightening and dangerous events ever to
have occurred in this country. Until this act -- which is treasonous,
though again not technically, in its sweeping implications -- is somehow
rectified (and I do not know how this can be done), can we be serene about
continuing to place the adjective "great" before the name of this
"None Dare Call it
The Nation, 2/5/01
The Court's power lies... in its legitimacy, a product of substance and
perception that shows itself in the people's acceptance if the Judiciary as fit
to determine what the Nation's law means, and to declare what it demands.
Justices Souter, Kennedy and O'Connor
Casey v. Planned Parenthood, 1992
From the Journalists
...[P]resented with one of the most momentous cases in its history, the court
produced a crimped ruling that may one day serve as the defining legacy of the
Rehnquist court. By barring any further hand count of disputed ballots in
Florida and effectively awarding the election to Gov. George W. Bush, the
majority of five conservative justices overlook the bedrock democratic principle
that every vote should be counted before the winner of an election is
determined. Because the court is the nation's ultimate embodiment of the rule of
law, its verdict has properly been seen as definitive by all Americans. But
rather than ennobling the law and the Constitution, and sagaciously bringing the
election to a resolution built on the ballot, the justices eroded public
confidence in the court itself.
Editorial, The New York Times
Healing? Sure. American culture requires it, and so do the careers of
American politicians. But healing is also a part of the strategy of the
Republican larcenists, in and out of robes, who arranged to suppress the truth
about the vote in Florida and thereby to make off with the election of 2000.
Having satisfied their lower impulses, they are counting on us to act on our
higher impulses, and to come together. Well, we cannot come together, at least
not yet, because we have just been driven apart. The rupture is real, and it
demands to be analyzed. After what happened at the Supreme Court on December 12,
anger is a mark of analysis...
... We insist .. that the election of the president of the United States by
the Supreme Court of the United States needs to be regarded not only legally,
but also morally an historically. And morally and historically speaking, we have
witnessed and outrage.
The Orwellian character of the majority opinion in
Bush v. Gore is
plain from even a cursory reading. The justices cite precedents affirming
"the one man, one vote basis of our representative government," and
then they proceed to nullify the votes of thousands of men and women. They
castigate the contest provision of the Florida Supreme Court for failing to
"sustain the confidence that all citizens must have in the outcome of
elections. They protest that none are more conscious of the vital limits on
judicial authority than are the members of this Court," and then they
proceed to extend judicial authority into the very heart of American politics
– an extension so vast and so unprecedented that it can only be described as
... This ruling was designed to bring about a political outcome, and it is an
insult to the intelligence of the American people to suggest otherwise.
The New Republic
Bush takes office with the taint of an election wrested from the popular will
and bereft of honest accounting. The Supreme Court administered the coup de
grace by shutting down the Florida recount, but that only confirmed what has
been evident for weeks: Between the intertwined interests of the Brothers Bush,
the Florida legislature, the GOP Congressional majority and the Rehnquist Court
faction, never has electoral power shifted so far, so fast, from the hands of
The Nation, Editorial
January 1, 2000
The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment is the constitutional
provision that protects African-Americans and other minorities against official
discrimination. In Bush v. Gore, the U.S. Supreme Court invoked the
Equal Protection Clause to protect ... whom, exactly? And from what?
Don't say, "George W. Bush. From democracy." This is a
period of reconciliation and healing the wounds, remember? . . .
You might think that if voting is a fundamental right, the Constitution would
be best served by maximizing the number of citizens whose votes are counted
correctly -- not by worrying whether each vote has an equal chance of not
counting. You might wonder about a use of the Equal Protection Clause that
takes away this fundamental right from thousands of voters without extending it
to a single one. But if you think like this, you'll never be a Supreme
Court justice. At least for the next four years.
Courts have an obligation to persuade. Their power is legitimate only if they
give reasoned arguments for what they do. By that standard, the decision in Bush
v. Gore was a dismal failure...
The majority's rush to judgment has no credible explanation in the per curiam
opinion. So the country is left with the impression that five justices acted as
they did because they cared more about the result – ending the recount –
than they did about the reasoning that would compel it.
A thoughtful British columnist, Philip Stephens of The Financial Times, said
the decision put "indelible stain on the court's always half-illusory
reputation as honest guardian of the Constitution." Deciding a case of this
magnitude with such disregard for reason invites people to treat the courts aura
of reason as an illusion.
This would be a terrible price to pay. The Supreme Court must have the last
word in our system because its role is essential to our structure of freedom.
Preservation of the public respect on which the institution depends is far more
important than who becomes president.
The New York Times
The court has never before been so instrumental in the selection of a
president, and its decisions have rarely seemed so openly political...
A robust patriotism demands that we never forget how [Bush] achieved office,
in order to make sure that this terrible venture away from the territory of
democracy never happens again. And a genuine patriotism does not require anyone
to accept the logic of five Supreme Court justices who clearly contorted their
own principles and created new law to achieve this result.
E. J. Dionne Jr.
The Washington Post
The foundation of dynasty is not the throne but the institutions on which the
throne rests. Relatives, friends or allies must dominate the praetorian guard,
the regency council or the business empires that bless the transfer of power
from one family generation to the next. To that list now add the Supreme Court
of the United States...
The Washington Post
[The] Supreme Court decision giving the presidency to George W. Bush,
delivered in the dead of night in an opaque, anonymous opinion rendered by the
Justices who gave no oral presentation from the bench (as they usually do) but
instead appropriately snuck out of the Court building through the garage, leaves
the country facing a worrisome political future. The damage done to the courts
and to the rule of law by the Supreme Court's judicial overreaching into
politics and the damage done to democracy by the sudden interruption of a vote
count ... have been commented upon by many observers... Will the distressing,
unprecedented televised image of vote-counters physically putting down ballots
they had been examining become the symbol of an era?
The Nation, 1/1/01
The rule of law has taken a terrific beating from the Supreme Court. Basic
principles of adjudication have been trampled on: that the Court should stay out
of partisan political fights a much as possible; that state courts are the
arbiters of state law, one of the oldest principles in our jurisprudence and one
that this states' rights-loving Court in particular might have been expected to
honor; that a court doesn't create new doctrines that no one could have
anticipated without giving the affected parties a chance to comply; that before
hearing an argument, courts don't issue interim relief that could prove decisive
unless absolutely necessary to avoid irreparable harm – hardly the case here
since the results of the recount could have been set aside if necessary.
In 1857 the Court intervened in a bitter national dispute when it decided the
Dred Scott case. It took decades for the Court and the country to recover from
that. How long will it take this time, especially if further investigation
confirms what we all already know – that this election was stolen under color
The Nation, 1/1/01
[George W. Bush] gained office through an act of
judicial usurpation. We will not 'move on.' Indeed, some of
us will work for the next four years to correct this affront to our
constitutional order.... The best that can be hoped for under such
circumstances is that this illegitimately gained presidency will give
rise to a determination on the part of the people to resume the burden
and the privileges of self-government.
William Kristol, Editor
The Weekly Standard
The Nation, 1/8/01
The dubious elements of Bush's victory are so numerous that
questions regarding his legitimacy are appropriate -- even urgent... Where
in the Constitution -- it certainly wasn't in the intent of the framers -- does
the Supreme Court get its power to decide presidential elections? Because
the simple fact is that George W. Bush is the first president to be chosen by
the Supreme Court -- by a single vote.... The current situation is the
first in which a Court dominated by the ebbing party has gone so ar as to void
an election result the majority deemed unacceptable.
In a slapdash job of constitutional interpretation, the
conservatives upended and ravaged four foundational relationships in our
constitutional system. It usurped the role of the Florida Supreme Court in
interpreting state law. It usurped the role of the American people by
halting the counting of ballots in a presidential election and effectively
choosing the president for them It usurped Congress' power to acept or
reject the states' electoral college votes. And it reversed the proper
distribution of powers in the federal government by having Supreme Court
justices appoint the president rather than vice versa.
Washington Monthly, 3/2001
(From more than 459 Historians):
For two hundred and thirteen
years, against formidable obstacles, democracy in American has expanded.
We opened up the right to vote, securing the popular election of US senators and
presidential electors, securing voting rights for the poor, women, and
blacks. Now, in an act no less reprehensible than the partisan resolution
of the election of 1876, a narrow majority of the Supreme Court has pulled the
nation backward. Its decision to halt the full and accurate counting of
Florida's legal votes prevents the American people from selecting the next
president of the United States.
The narrow majority has simultaneously cast doubt upon its own motives and
undermined the legitimacy of the next chief executive. There is,
justifiably, a widespread impression that this narrow majority acted as it did
in order to install a Republican president and to expand its political position
on the Court.
Historians will draw their own conclusions about the election of 2000, based
on the facts and evidence as they emerge. But there are already strong
reasons to believe that the candidate who, on November 7, won enough votes to
carry the Electoral College is nto the one who will become president.
We are outraged and saddened at this wound inflicted upon American
democracy. We call upon our fellow citizens, Republicans, Democrats and
independents, to join us in dedicating ourselves to reform the electoral system
so that the democratic will of the people is never again violated in an American
Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University
Todd Gitlin, New York University
Davin Brion Davis, Yale University
George M. Frederickson, Stanford
Michael Kammen, Cornell University
Mary P. Ryan, UC Berkeley
Sean Wilentz, Princeton University
Garry Wills, Northwestern University
More than 450 other Historians.
(New York Review, 2/8/01)
Who has done everything to win? Who thinks winning is not everything, it's
the only thing? The Republicans felt cheated in 1960; cheated again in 1973-4,
with Watergate; cheated again by Bill Clinton, who dared to win in 1992; cheated
yet again when, having impeached him, they failed to convict him. Their court
did what it was appointed to do – defend the rights of state authorities
except, when push came to shove, when defending those rights might have benefited
their opponent. Push has come to shove. Claiming Gore would do anything to be
president, the Republicans have stopped at nothing to get themselves a
president. This is a moment of truth. Let scales fall from our eyes.
New York University
In the campaign's aftermath, Gore, relentless in his quest to challenge the
Florida secretary of state's certification of the election, necessarily upheld
the proposition that the truth of who had won could be established. Bush, by
contrast, revealed something deeper than the typical politician's willingness to
manipulate the truth for his own purposes. In his determined effort to prevent
anyone from ever knowing who actually won the state, he implicitly endorsed the
notion that there was no truth even worth manipulating. When promulgated by
left-wing academics skeptical of truth claims held to be timeless and universal
– such claims, they argued, denied the proclivity of dominant groups to impose
their values on the oppressed or the marginalized – postmodern skepticism has
faced derisive rebuttal from political conservatives. But when it was expressed
by George W. Bush and his supporters in their efforts to explain why it was
unnecessary to count votes, conservatives applauded. Bush will be our first
truly postmodern president, the first of whom it can be said that when asked how
he came to be the winner, he can reasons that it all depends on the perspective
one brings to the question.
We know, because President Clinton reminded us, that politicians who lie to
flagrantly are hobbled in their exercise of authority, for if the are willing to
lie under oath or in front of a camera, why should we ever believe them again?
... As a postmodern president, Bush will face a challenge to his authority far
greater than Clinton's, for the foundation of his legitimacy will hinge on the
proposition that ultimately it did not matter whether his victory was real or
Without truth, in the end, there can be no politics. There can be no purpose
that requires government to take action for the collective good.
Prof. of Sociology
Can anyone deny that hundreds of thousands of Florida voters have already
been denied the equal protection of the laws? Wasn't that what happened when
voters in predominantly minority communities had to vote using antiquated
machines that weren't properly maintained? When they were given misleading
ballots with faulty instructions? When they had to brave police checkpoints to
get to their polling stations? When polling stations were moved in the middle of
the night? When minority voter's registration applications weren't processed and
when longtime voters had their names illegally removed from the voting rolls?
And don't forget – while the state of Florida's election authorities did
everything they could to place obstacles in the way of African American and
other minority voters, other election officials in Florida were conspiring with
the Republican Party to make sure that no matter what mistakes white Republican
voters made on their absentee ballot applications, those voters would still get
There were dozens of gross injustices in the Florida election. The huge
number of undervoted ballots, concentrated in minority precincts across Florida,
was the only one for which there appeared to be a partial remedy – and that
remedy was the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court on Friday. For all
the rest – the police blockades and the midnight moves of polling places, the
discriminatory purges – there is going to be no remedy.
Now it appears, from the words of Justice Scalia, that the only meaning of
the equal protection clause is that there must be no remedy at all for those who
have been discriminated against.
Jesse L. Jackson
The Washington Post
This [seems] to me to be the most dismaying and shocking public event of our
time. In an era when respect for the political system and the legitimacy of
public institutions has already suffered terrible blows, the U. S. Supreme
Court has violated all the norms of behavior that the judiciary has carefully
created for itself, shattered its own image in the process, and undoubtedly
confirmed the unwarranted belief among many Americans that our political system
is hopelessly flawed and corrupt. That is not, I suspect, what Chief Justice
Rehnquist and his colleagues had hoped history would remember them for.
Prof. of History, Columbia University