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View Diary: Al Gore: NSA’s actions revealed by Snowden are “a threat to the heart of democracy.” (179 comments)

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  •  there was no state law (6+ / 0-)

    allowing for a statewide recount. Florida election law at the time was poorly written (it has since been changed).

    The law is a technical thing. Judges are technical people, and they make decisions based on technicalities. Juries are another thing--but this was not a jury trial. Good lawyers are conservative, not necessarily politically, but in the sense that they generally seek arguments that have solid foundation in existing law and precedent, rather than trying to stake out novel ground on principle.

    The fact that a statewide recount was the right thing to do doesn't mean that the judges would have approved it. SCOFL doesn't rule on federal law, only Florida law. "States' rights" is not a thing a state court has any jurisdiction over.

    The Gore team might have argued to SCOFL that a state recount was justified on broader grounds of electoral fairness not explicitly guaranteed in Florida law, but it might have been struck down by SCOFL as being overbroad and without any basis in Florida law, and then valuable time would have been lost.

    The date of inauguration of a new president is fixed by the  Constitution, so they only had a limited time to act. It was a completely unprecedented situation, and they did what seemed best to them at the time. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but they had no benefit of hindsight. Not even we can say in hindsight that the judges would have ruled in Gore's favor if they had presented an argument based on fairness to the voters. We cannot read minds.

    As for the idea that Gore should have abused his office as president of the Senate (constitutionally limited to breaking ties) to help make himself president, that would have been simply throwing fuel on the fire and worsening the breach in the rule of law created by Bush v. Gore.

    SCOTUS had already shown itself to be totally corrupt, should he have done them one worse and used the power of his office to put the glittering crown on his own head? That would have been a conflict of interest that dwarfed SCOTUS'.

    He would have had to go before Congress and the whole world  and say "Fuck SCOTUS, fuck their bullshit verdict and the fuckin' horse it rode in on, make me king, not that shithead over there." Had he succeeded in getting his way--doubtful, given the Republican-controlled House which would have chosen the president had the electoral vote proven flawed or indecisive--he could not have possibly governed as a democratic leader, only ruled as a dictator. You can't convince people you will faithfully uphold the laws Congress passes if you shit all over SCOTUS to become president in the first place. Bush was OK with being a tyrant, as it turned out. But Gore isn't.

    No, Gore did the right thing. Not one politician in a million, in his place--with the most powerful office in the world a fingernail's breadth away--would have done as he did. Most of them are just in it to be king shit and they'll do whatever it takes to sit on the gilded throne and wear the tin crown, they'd trample their own mothers into the mud to do it, let alone the Constitution. What's that to them? Just a "goddamned piece of paper", as Bush said. But Gore put the country above his own personal gain.

    He always had the makings of an excellent president, but that act showed he had it in him to be a great one.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 01:22:48 PM PDT

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    •  Your first sentence misses the point. (10+ / 0-)

      States have near-absolute authority under the Tenth Amendment to conduct elections as they see fit.  Consequently, challenging a statewide election only in certain counties was an excellent way to have one's case rejected on the grounds of states' rights.

      As for the idea that Gore should have abused his office as president of the Senate (constitutionally limited to breaking ties) to help make himself president,
      Nobody was asking for that.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 01:31:59 PM PDT

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      •  FL Supremes issued 12/08/00 ruling on state law (11+ / 0-)

        I chuckled as a I read opinion, as they clearly made it (presumably) bulletproof from review on federal issues.  About 24 hours later, 5 Supremes issued a stay that utterly stood all logic on its head.   That stay (which, IIRC, was issued w/o briefing by Gore's attys) operated as a de facto decision on the merits.

        I really don't have the time or energy to reopen a gaping wound that never really healed.  I will say that I worked w/ 1 of the 3 election judges who cut and ran during the Brooks Bros. Riot.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 02:02:54 PM PDT

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      •  It doesn't miss the point. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        limpidglass

        When you challenge a state election under state law you do it as the statutes specify.

        "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers

        by Kentucky DeanDemocrat on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 02:46:37 PM PDT

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        •  Yes, you do. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Johnny Q

          But you challenge the whole state, or else you open yourself up to a charge of civil rights violation -- which is federally determined.

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 02:55:57 PM PDT

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      •  Florida election law explicitly provided (0+ / 0-)

        for electoral recounts in individual counties, by petitioning the individual county canvassing boards. The Gore team was completely obeying Florida law by calling for limited rather than statewide recounts. That's a powerful support, having the law on one's side.

        You said states had the constitutional power to conduct elections as they see fit. The Florida legislature passed and their governor signed the goofy law that allowed candidates in statewide elections to selectively contest election results in individual counties. They chose to run their elections that way, under the power granted them by the Constitution.

        If there's a legal issue in all this (and I'll grant there could be), it can't be one of violating states' rights--because everything Gore's team did was in accordance with state law. Nothing they did trampled on the power of the state to set its own election law.

        That the state law might have violated federal law is a different issue, and one that the Gore team could not have reasonably been expected to consider. Proceeding according to state law is usually protection enough. No one had made a federal case out of that law before, so as far as they knew, it was good law.

        Trying to preempt that totally hypothetical challenge from happening by requesting an alternative that has no basis whatsoever in state law (which might well be denied) is just too much to ask. Should they have ignored perfectly legal (under state law) means of victory that were available to them, on the possibility that some federal judge might find it amiss?

        Nobody was asking for that.
        In that case, what were you asking for, that he should have done? Congress sets its own rules of procedure, Gore followed them. If he'd acted outside that, it would have been a violation of separation of powers worse than what SCOTUS committed.

        And as I said, even if he had gotten the Senate to overturn the electoral vote, A) he would have further destroyed the constitutional order by defying SCOTUS and demanding Congress do the same, and B) the Republican-controlled House would have almost surely voted for Bush. Hell, there were probably a ton of gutless Democrats who would have voted to install Bush. And the SCOTUS verdict would have given them perfect cover to do so. "Gore's an outlaw, look at him giving the middle finger to SCOTUS, I'm just standing up for the Constitution and the rule of law here," they would've smirked. And the people would have backed them.

        There were two and only two choices available to Gore after agreeing to be bound by SCOTUS: either go along with it, or shred the Constitution further by trying an end run around SCOTUS. There was no middle ground, no third way, no ifs, ands, or buts.

        It was as clear a choice as any presented to a politician; indeed, few politicians are offered such a clear-cut choice between the right and the wrong, and he took the right.

        "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

        by limpidglass on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 03:25:32 PM PDT

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    •  I'm afraid I'm with RFKLives on this one (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Johnny Q, lunachickie

      Comment below reflects my understanding of issue.

      There is no way for a citizen of a Republic to abdicate his responsibilities. ---Edward R. Murrow

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 02:41:56 PM PDT

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