Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delivered some advice to those Americans who still lament the court's appointment of George W. Bush as president of the United Sates following the disputed 2000 presidential election.
"Get over it."
Reported the Associated Press:
"Scalia delivered his advice Tuesday at Iona College in New York.
"Scalia, answering questions after a speech, also said that critics of the 5-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore need to move on six years after the electoral drama of December 2000, when it seemed the whole nation hung by a chad awaiting the outcome of the presidential election.
" 'It's water over the deck - get over it'," he said to laughter from the audience.
The AP added:
"In a decision made public on the evening of Dec. 12, 2000, the court said the recount violated the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because Florida counties were allowed to set their own standard for determining whether to count a vote.
" 'Counting somebody else's dimpled chad and not counting my dimpled chad is not giving equal protection of the law,' Scalia said at Iona."
Of course, the decision to stop the recount denied "equal protection of the law" to those Floridians whose votes were never considered.
Sandra Day O'Connor, who sided with Scalia and three other judges, said halting the recount didn't matter because studies showed by recounting in the four counties Democrat candidate Al Gore requested Bush would have won anyway. But the recount ordered by the Florida State Supreme Court that the US justices halted applied to all Florida counties, and the very studies O'Connor cited said that Gore would have won the state if all counties were recounted and the nation would have been spared the horrible Bush regime that ex-Washington Post Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein says has done "Far Greater Damage" than did Nixon.
In an interview with washingtonpost.com, Bernstein said:
"In terms of small-bore (but dangerous) characters like Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy with their schemes, I doubt that any presidency approaches the criminality of the Nixon White House. But the Watergate conspiracy--to undermine the constitution and use illegal methods to hurt Nixon's political opponents and even undermine the electoral system--was supervised by those at the very top.
"In the current administration we have seen from the President down -- especially Vice President Cheney, Attorney General Gonzales, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld -- a willingness to ignore the great constitutional history of the United States -- to suspend, really, many of the constitutional guarantees that have made us a nation apart, with real freedoms unknown elsewhere, unrestricted by short-term political objectives of our leaders.
"Then there are the Geneva conventions: Who would have dreamed that, in our lifetime, our leaders would permit their flagrant abuse, would authorize torture, 'renditions' to foreign-torture chambers, suspension of habeus corpus, illegal surveillance of our own citizens....
"But perhaps worst, has been the lying and mendacity of the president and his men and women--in the reasons they cited for going to war, their conduct of the war, their attempts to smear their political opponents.
"Nixon and his men lied and abused the constitution to horrible effect, but they were stopped.
"The Bush Administration -- especially its top officials named above and others familiar to most Americans -- was not stopped, and has done far greater damage. As a (Republican) bumper-sticker of the day proclaimed, 'Nobody died at Watergate.' If only we could say that about the era of George W. Bush, and that our elected representatives in Congress and our judiciary had been courageous enough to do their duty and hold the President and his aides accountable."
The sad part of this episode is that Scalia represents the political faction of Americans that has never gotten over the rejection of Judge Robert Bork for the Supreme Court nor the impending impeachment of Nixon that was prevented only by Nixon' resignation from the presidency.
That resentment over Bork's rejection still crops up in right-wing discourse, especially when President Bush names a judicial candidate that makes Bork look like the good King Solomon.
We should remember Bork as the candidate who advocated that the court was wrong on its Roe v Wade decision negating antiabortion laws nationwide. He also argued the court was mistaken in its flag-burning decisions. Those positions would indicate that Bork has as much respect for constitutional government as does Bush; and Scalia for that matter.
The Constitution specifically states in Article I, Section 8, paragraph 18, that all laws made by government must be based on powers the Constitution places with government. There is no power in that document to authorize regulation of the reproductive process, or our love lives and marriages either, in case anyone is interested. That makes reproduction an "immunity" in the eyes of constitutional law.
And as an "immunity" the states are not allowed to intervene in that area either. But Bork, and his intellectual followers such as Scalia and a few other SCOTUS judges prefer their personal philosophy or religious dogma supersede the Constitution.
The Constitution doesn't give, imply, refer to, or pretend, power for the government to regulate our patriotism or lack of such, and that refers to flag burning as a political protest. The Constitution does say that government can make needful rules and regulations (Article IV, Section 3) concerning property belonging to the government. Therefore, government can legally bar, prohibit or punish flag burning if it is a flag belonging to the government burned and which had been stolen from government. But the decisions that got Bork's dander up involved people burning their personal private property, a position indicating Bork's disdain for the Fifth Amendment's protection of property rights. When people burned government flags in protest they were properly convicted and those convictions stood.
Scalia also belongs to a political faction that advances the concept of "originalism" to constitutional debate. Originalists believe that one must read the Constitution literally as it was read in 1787 when written. But in 1787, abortion was widespread and easily obtained anywhere in the colonies. In creating the Constitution, the Founders saw no need for the new Constitution to address that fact and failed to give government power in act in the area of procreation or any other sexual realm.
How originalists run afoul of the Constitution on many other matters is a subject for another article.
The political right from which Scalia comes used the impeachment power to go after President Bill Clinton as revenge for the travails of Nixon, something the right has refused to "get over."
We know all the "scandals" surrounding Clinton were shown to be false and malicious attacks except for one minor non-intercourse sexual dalliance with a willing and consenting adult female government intern. Because Clinton denied having a 'sexual affair with that women" he was impeached by those who have yet to "get over" Nixon's near impeachment.
(An aside here. We need to define "sexual affair" or "sexual encounter." To those who define either or both as engaging in sexual intercourse, Clinton did not have what he was accused of lying about. To those who define either or both as any contact with another's sexual organs, he did have the encounter he denied. And a conservative's definition isn't any more valid that a liberal's definition.)
If Scalia and other right-wing donuts wish us to "get over" the stolen 2000 election that put into power the most-corrupt, dishonest, most-criminal and most-miserable administration in American history, they should lead the way and "get over" right-wing failures of the past. And Americans should ask Scalia why they should "get over" unleashing the most-blood-thirsty regime in American history on the nation and the world by him and his cohorts.
Thomas Bonsell is a former newspaper editor (in Oregon, New York and Colorado) United States Air Force cryptanalyst and National Security Agency intelligence agent. He became one of (more...)