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CALL IT TREASON
IN THE DECEMBER 12 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court handing the election to George Bush, the Court committed the unpardonable sin of being a knowing surrogate for the Republican Party instead of being an impartial arbiter of the law. If you doubt this, try to imagine Al Gore's and George Bush's roles being reversed and ask yourself if you can conceive of Justice Antonin Scalia and his four conservative brethren issuing an emergency order on December 9 stopping the counting of ballots (at a time when Gore's lead had shrunk to 154 votes) on the grounds that if it continued, Gore could suffer "irreparable harm," and then subsequently, on December 12, bequeathing the election to Gore on equal protection grounds. If you can, then I suppose you can also imagine seeing a man jumping away from his own shadow, Frenchmen no longer drinking wine.
From the beginning, Bush desperately sought, as it were, to prevent the opening of the door, the looking into the box—unmistakable signs that he feared the truth. In a nation that prides itself on openness, instead of the Supreme Court doing everything within its power to find a legal way to open the door and box, they did the precise opposite in grasping, stretching and searching mightily for a way, any way at all, to aid their choice for president, Bush, in the suppression of the truth, finally settling, in their judicial coup d'état, on the untenable argument that there was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment'sequal protection clause—the Court asserting that because of the various standards of determining the voter's intent in the Florida counties, voters were treated unequally, since a vote disqualified in one county (the so-called undervotes, which the voting machines did not pick up) may have been counted in another county, and vice versa. Accordingly, the Court reversed the Florida Supreme Court's order that the undervotes be counted, effectively delivering the presidency to Bush.
Now, in the equal protection cases I've seen, the aggrieved party, the one who is being harmed and discriminated against, almost invariably brings the action. But no Florida voter I'm aware of brought any action under the equal protection clause claiming he was disenfranchised because of the different standards being employed. What happened here is that Bush leaped in and tried to profit from a hypothetical wrong inflicted on someone else. Even assuming Bush had this right, the very core of his petition to the Court was that he himself would be harmed by these different standards. But would he have? If we're to be governed by common sense, the answer is no. The reason is that just as with flipping a coin you end up in rather short order with as many heads as tails, there would be a "wash" here for both sides, i.e., there is no reason to believe that there wouldn't be just as many Bush as Gore votes that would be counted in one county yet disqualified in the next. (Even if we were to assume, for the sake of argument, that the wash wouldn't end up exactly, 100 percent even, we'd still be dealing with the rule of de minimis non curat lex—the law does not concern itself with trifling matters.) So what harm to Bush was the Court so passionately trying to prevent by its ruling other than the real one: that he would be harmed by the truth as elicited from a full counting of the undervotes?
And if the Courts five-member majority was concerned not about Bush but the voters themselves, as they fervently claimed to be, then under what conceivable theory would they, in effect, tell these voters, "We're so concerned that some of you undervoters may lose your vote under the different Florida county standards that we're going to solve the problem by making sure that none of you undervoters have your votes counted"? Isn't this exactly what the Court did?
Gore's lawyer, David Boies, never argued either of the above points to the Court. Also, since Boies already knew (from language in the December 9 emergency order of the Court) that Justice Scalia, the Court's right-wing ideologue, his Pavlovian puppet, Clarence Thomas, who doesn't even try to create the impression that he's thinking; and three other conservatives on the Court (William Rehnquist, Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy) intended to deodorize their foul intent by hanging their hat on the anemic equal protection argument, wouldn't you think that he and his people would have come up with at least three or four strong arguments to expose it for what it was—a legal gimmick that the brazen, shameless majority intended to invoke to perpetrate a judicial hijacking in broad daylight? And made sure that he got into the record of his oral argument all of these points? Yet, remarkably, Boies only managed to make one good equal protection argument, and that one near the very end of his presentation, and then only because Justice Rehnquist (not at Boies's request, I might add) granted him an extra two minutes. If Rehnquist hadn't given him the additional two minutes, Boies would have sat down without getting even one good equal protection argument into the record.
This was Boies's belated argument: "Any differences as to how this standard [to determine voter intent] is interpreted have a lot less significance in terms of what votes are counted or not counted than simply the differences in machines that exist throughout the counties of Florida." A more powerful way to make Boies's argument would have been to point out to the Court the reductio ad absurdum of the equal protection argument. If none of the undervotes were counted because of the various standards to count them, then to be completely consistent the Court would have had no choice but to invalidate the entire Florida election, since there is no question that votes lost in some counties because of the method of voting would have been recorded in others utilizing a different method. How would the conservative majority have gotten around that argument without buckling on the counting of the undervotes? Of course, advice after a mistake is like medicine after death. And as we shall see, no matter what Boies argued, the five conservative Justices had already made up their minds. But it would have been delightful to see how these Justices, forced to stare into the noonday sun, would have attempted to avoid a confrontation with the truth.
The Court majority, after knowingly transforming the votes of 50 million Americans into nothing and throwing out all of the Florida undervotes (around 60,000), actually wrote that their ruling was intended to preserve "the fundamental right" to vote. This elevates audacity to symphonic and operatic levels. The Court went on to say, after stealing the election from the American people, "None are more conscious of the vital limits on its judicial authority than are the members of this Court, and none stand more in admiration of the Constitution's design to leave the selection of the President to the people." Can you imagine that? As they say, "It's enough to drive you to drink."
What makes the Court's decision even more offensive is that it warmly embraced, of all the bitter ironies, the equal protection clause, a constitutional provision tailor-made for blacks that these five conservative Justices have shown no hospitality to when invoked in lawsuits by black people, the very segment of the population most likely to be hurt by a Bush administration. As University of Southern California law professor Erwin Chemerinsky noted: "The Rehnquist Court almost never uses equal protection jurisprudence except in striking down affirmative action programs [designed to help blacks and minorities]. I can't think of a single instance where Scalia or Thomas has found discrimination against a racial minority, or women, or the aged, or the disabled, to be unconstitutional."
Varying methods to cast and count votes have been going on in every state of the union for the past two centuries, and the Supreme Court has been as silent as a church mouse on the matter, never even hinting that there might be a right under the equal protection clause that was being violated. Georgetown University law professor David Cole said, "[The Court] created a new right out of whole cloth and made sure it ultimately protected only one person—George Bush." The simple fact is that the five conservative Justices did not have a judicial leg to stand on in their blatantly partisan decision. In a feeble, desperate effort to support their decision, the Court cited four of its previous cases as legal precedent. But when one looks up these cases, one finds that not one of them bears even the slightest resemblance to Bush v. Gore. In one (Gray v. Sanders), the state of Georgia had a system where the vote of each citizen counted for less and less as the population of his or her country increased. In another (Moore v. Ogilvie), the residents of smaller counties in Illinois were able to form a new party to elect candidates, something residents of larger counties could not do. Another (Reynolds v. Sims) was an apportionment case, and the fourth (Harper v. Virginia) involved the payment of a poll tax as a qualification for voting: If a first-year law student ever cited completely inapplicable authority like this, any thoughtful professor would encourage him not to waste two more years trying to become a lawyer. As Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar noted, the five conservative Justices "failed to cite a single case that, on its facts, comes close to supporting its analysis and result."
If the Court majority had been truly concerned about the equal protection of all voters, the real equal protection violation, of course, took place when they cut off the counting of the undervotes. As indicated, that very act denied the 50 million Americans who voted for Gore the right to have their votes count at all. It misses the point to argue that the five Justices stole the election only if it turns out that Gore overcame Bush's lead in the undervote recount. We're talking about the moral and ethical culpability of these Justices, and when you do that, the bell was rung at the moment they engaged in their conduct. What happened thereafter cannot unring the bell and is therefore irrelevant. To judge these Justices by the final result rather than by their intentions at the time of their conduct would be like exonerating one who shoots to kill if the bullet misses the victim. With that type of extravagant reasoning, if the bullet goes on and accidentally strikes down a third party who is about to kill another, perhaps the gunman should ultimately be viewed as a hero.
Other than the unprecedented and outrageous nature of what the Court did, nothing surprises me more than how it is being viewed by the legal scholars and pundits who have criticized the opinion. As far as I can determine, most have correctly assailed the Court for issuing a ruling that was clearly political. As the December 25 Time capsulized it, "A sizable number of critics, from law professors to some of the Court's own members, have attacked the riding as ... politically motivated." A sampling from a few law professors: Vanderbilt professor Suzanna Sherry said, "There is really very little way to reconcile this opinion other than that they wanted Bush to win." Yale's Amar lamented that "for Supreme Court watchers this case will be like BC and AD. For many of my colleagues, this was like the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Many of us [had] thought that courts do not act in an openly political fashion." Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy called the decision "outrageous."
The only problem I have with these critics is that they have merely lost respect for and confidence in the Court. "I have less respect for the Court than before," Amar wrote. The New York Times said the ruling appeared "openly political" and that it "eroded public confidence in the Court." Indeed, the always accommodating and obsequious (in all matters pertaining to the High Court, in front of which he regularly appears) Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, who was Gore's chief appellate lawyer, went even further in the weakness of his disenchantment with the Court. "Even if we disagree" with the Court's ruling, he said, Americans should "rally around the decision."
Sometimes the body politic is lulled into thinking along unreasoned lines. 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 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 possibly 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.
Since the notion of five Supreme Court Justices being criminals is so alien to our sensibilities and previously held beliefs, and since, for the most part, people see and hear, as Thoreau said, what they expect to see and hear, most readers will find my characterization of these Justices to be intellectually incongruous. But make no mistake about it, I think my background in the criminal law is sufficient to inform you that Scalia, Thomas et al. are criminals in the very truest sense of the word.
Essentially, there are two types of crimes: malum prohibitum (wrong because they are prohibited) crimes, more popularly called "civil offenses" or "quasi crimes," such as selling liquor after a specified time of day, hunting during the off-season, gambling, etc.; and malum in se (wrong in themselves) crimes. The latter, such as robbery, rape, murder and arson, are the only true crimes. Without exception, they all involve morally reprehensible conduct. Even if there were no law prohibiting such conduct, one would know (as opposed to a malum prohibitum crime) it is wrong, often evil. Although the victim of most true crimes is an individual (for example, a person robbed or raped), such crimes are considered to be "wrongs against society." This is why the plaintiff in all felony criminal prosecutions is either the state (People of the State of California v. ___________) or the federal government (United States of America v. _____________).
No technical true crime was committed here by the five conservative Justices only because no Congress ever dreamed of enacting a statute making it a crime to steal a presidential election. It is so far-out and unbelievable that there was no law, then, for these five Justices to have violated by their theft of the election. But if what these Justices did was not "morally reprehensible" and a "wrong against society," what would be? In terms, then, of natural law and justice—the protoplasm of all eventual laws on the books—these five Justices are criminals in every true sense of the word, and in a fair and just world belong behind prison bars as much as any American white-collar criminal who ever lived. Of course, the right-wing extremists who have saluted the Court for its theft of the election are the same type of people who feel it is perfectly all right to have a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in a federal penitentiary for some poor black in the ghetto who is in possession of just fifty grams of crack cocaine, even if he was not selling it. [21 U.S.C. §841(b)(1)(A)(iii)]
Though the five Justices clearly are criminals, no one is treating them this way. As I say, even those who were outraged by the Court's ruling have only lost respect for them. And for the most part the nation's press seems to have already forgotten and/or forgiven. Within days, the Court's ruling was no longer the subject of Op-Ed pieces. Indeed, just five days after its high crime, the caption of an article by Jean Guccione in the Los Angeles Times read, "The Supreme Court Should Weather This Storm." The following day an AP story noted that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, on vacation in Arizona, had fired a hole-in-one on the golf course.
The lack of any valid legal basis for their decision and, most important, the fact that it is inconceivable they would have ruled the way they did for Gore, proves, on its face, that the five conservative Republican Justices were up to no good. Therefore, not one stitch of circumstantial evidence beyond this is really necessary to demonstrate their felonious conduct and state of mind. (The fact that O'Connor, per the Wall Street Journal, said before the election that she wanted to retire but did not want to do so if a Democrat would be selecting her successor, that Thomas's wife is working for the conservative Heritage Foundation to help handle the Bush transition and that Scalia's two sons work for law firms representing Bush is all unneeded trivia. We already know, without this, exactly what happened.) But for those who want more, let me point out that there is no surer way to find out what parties meant than to see what they have done. And like typical criminals, the felonious five left their incriminating fingerprints everywhere, showing an unmistakable consciousness of guilt on their part.
1. Under Florida case and statutory law, when the Florida Supreme Court finds that a challenge to the certified result of an election is justified, it has the power to "provide any relief appropriate under the circumstances" (§102.168(8) of the Florida Election Code). On Friday, December 8, the Florida court, so finding, ordered a manual recount (authorized under §102.166(4)(c) of the Florida Election Code) of all disputed ballots (around 60,000) throughout the entire state. As a New York Times editorial reported, "The manual recount was progressing smoothly and swiftly Saturday ... with new votes being recorded for both Vice President Al Gore and Governor George W. Bush ... serving the core democratic principle that every legal vote should be counted" when, in midafternoon, the US Supreme Court "did a disservice to the nation's tradition of fair elections by calling a halt" to the recount. The stay (requested by Bush), the Times said, appeared "highly political."
Under Supreme Court rules, a stay is supposed to be granted to an applicant (here, Bush) only if he makes a substantial showing that in the absence of a stay, there is a likelihood of "irreparable harm" to him. With the haste of a criminal, Justice Scalia, in trying to justify the Court's shutting down of the vote counting, wrote, unbelievably, that counting these votes would "threaten irreparable harm to petitioner [Bush] ... by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election." [Emphasis added.] In other words, although the election had not yet been decided, the absolutely incredible Scalia was presupposing that Bush had won the election—indeed, had a right to win it—and any recount that showed Gore got more votes in Florida than Bush could "cloud" Bush's presidency. Only a criminal on the run, rushed for time and acting in desperation, could possibly write the embarrassing words Scalia did, language showing that he knew he had no legal basis for what he was doing, but that getting something down in writing, even as intellectually flabby and fatuous as it was, was better than nothing at all. (Rehnquist, Thomas, O'Connor and Kennedy, naturally, joined Scalia in the stay order.)
The New York Times observed that the Court gave the appearance by the stay of "racing to beat the clock before an unwelcome truth would come out." Terrance Sandalow, former dean of the University of Michigan Law School and a judicial conservative who opposed Roe v. Wade and supported the nomination to the Court of right-wing icon Robert Bork, said that "the balance of harms so unmistakably were on the side of Gore" that the granting of the stay was "incomprehensible," going on to call the stay "an unmistakably partisan decision without any foundation in law."
As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in opposing the stay, Bush "failed to carry the heavy burden" of showing a likelihood of irreparable harm if the recount continued. In other words, the Court never even had the legal right to grant the stay. "Counting every legally cast vote cannot constitute irreparable harm," Stevens said. "On the other hand, there is a danger that a stay may cause irreparable harm to the respondent [Gore] and, more importantly, the public at large because of the risk that the entry of the stay would be tantamount to a decision on the merits in favor of the applicant. Preventing the recount from being completed will inevitably cast a cloud on the legitimacy of the election." Stevens added what even the felonious five knew but decided to ignore: that it is a "basic principle inherent in our Constitution that every legal vote should be counted." From the wrongful granting of the stay alone, the handwriting was on the wall. Gore was about as safe as a cow in a Chicago stockyard.
In yet another piece of incriminating circumstantial evidence, Scalia, in granting Bush's application for the stay, wrote that "the issuance of the stay suggests that a majority of the Court, while not deciding the issues presented, believe that the petitioner [Bush] has a substantial probability of success." But Antonin, why would you believe this when neither side had submitted written briefs yet (they were due the following day, Sunday, by 4 P.M.), nor had there even been oral arguments (set for 11 A.M. on Monday)? It wouldn't be because you had already made up your mind on what you were determined to do, come hell or high water, would it? Antonin, take it from an experienced prosecutor—you're as guilty as sin. In my prosecutorial days, I've had some worthy opponents. You wouldn't be one of them. Your guilt is so obvious that if I thought more of you I'd feel constrained to blush for you.
2. When prosecutors present their circumstantial case against a defendant, they put one speck of evidence upon another until ultimately there is a strong mosaic of guilt. One such small speck is that in its 5-to-4 decision handing the election to Bush, the Court's ruling was set forth in a thirteen-page "per curiam" (Latin for "by the court") opinion (followed by concurring and dissenting opinions). Students of the Supreme Court know that per curiam opinions are almost always issued for unanimous (9-to-0) opinions in relatively unimportant and uncontroversial cases, or where Justices wish to be very brief. But as USA Today pointed out, "Neither was the case here." Again, on the run and in a guilty state of mind, none of the five Justices, even the brazenly shameless Scalia, wanted to sign their name to a majority opinion of the Court reversing the Florida Supreme Court's order to recount the undervotes. A per curiam opinion, which is always unsigned, was the answer. It is not even known who wrote the per curiam opinion, though it is believed to be O'Connor and/or Kennedy, neither of whose names is mentioned anywhere in the Court's sixty-two-page document. After they did their dirty work by casting their two votes on the case for their favorite—two votes that overruled and rendered worthless the votes of 50 million Americans in fifty states—O'Connor and Kennedy wanted to stay away from their decision the way the devil stays away from holy water. Indeed, by their per curiam opinion, it was almost as if the felonious five felt that since their names would not be on the legally sacrilegious opinion, maybe, just maybe, the guilt they knew they bore would be mitigated, at least somewhat, in posterity.
3. The proof that the Court itself knew its equal protection argument had no merit whatsoever is that when Bush first asked the Court, on November 22, to consider three objections of his to the earlier, more limited Florida recount then taking place, the Court, on November 24, only denied review on his third objection—yeah, you guessed it, that the lack of a uniform standard to determine the voter's intent violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Since the Court, on November 24, felt that this objection was so devoid of merit that it was unworthy of even being considered by it, what did these learned Justices subsequently learn about the equal protection clause they apparently did not know in November that caused them just three weeks later, on December 12, to embrace and endorse it so enthusiastically? The election was finally on the line on December 12 and they knew they had to come up with something, anything, to save the day for their man.
The bottom line is that nothing is more important in a democracy than the right to vote. Without it there cannot be a democracy. And implicit in the right to vote, obviously, is that the vote be counted. Yet with the election hanging in the balance, the highest court in the land ordered that the valid votes of thousands of Americans not be counted. That decision gave the election to Bush. When Justice Thomas was asked by a skeptical high school student the day after the Court's ruling whether the Court's decision had anything to do with politics, he answered, "Zero." And when a reporter thereafter asked Rehnquist whether he agreed with Thomas, he said, "Absolutely, absolutely." Well, at least we know they can lie as well as they can steal.
|Preface by the Editors of The Nation||3|
|Notes to Introduction||31|
|"None Dare Call It Treason"||41|
|Amplifications to "None Dare Call It Treason"||63|
|Summary of Legal Proceedings (Bush v. Gore)||119|
|Notes to Summary||155|
Barnes&Noble.com: What led you to write the book?
Vincent Bugliosi: When the Supreme Court came out with its decision on December 12, 2000, I -- along with millions of other Americans -- was outraged about what the Court had done. I started to read the assessment of the opinion by legal critics around the country. They'd say things like: The Court's ruling was dishonorable, corrupt, it was politically motivated -- I agreed with all of these critics 100 percent, up to that particular point.
B&N.com: Where did you differ?
VB: Where I parted company with the critics completely was when they went on to say that because of what the Court had done, they had only lost respect for the Court, lost confidence in the Court, that the Court had lost credibility in their eyes. My position is: Wait a while, folks, wait a while: 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? That would be like telling Timothy McVeigh, "You know, Timothy, we're not going to punish you, so you don't have to worry about that, but we don't have as much respect for you as we once did."
B&N.com: Wasn't the Court's ruling a purely "legal decision?" Or do you see it as a political one?
VB: If indeed the Court's ruling was politically motivated -- as it unquestionably was -- then this has to mean by definition that it was not based on the law! And if it was not based on the law, this means that these five justices -- deliberately and knowingly -- nullified the votes of 50 million Americans who voted for Al Gore and stole the election for George Bush. And the stark reality -- and I say this with every fiber of my being -- is that the institution in America that Americans revere, look up to the most, trust the most to protect its freedoms and its principles, committed one of the biggest and most serious crimes in American history.
B&N.com: Do you consider the five conservative justices criminals, then?
VB: When the Court stopped the recount in Florida, took the election away from the American people, and handed it to George Bush -- by definition, since the biggest crime in American history had been perpetuated, the perpetrators of that crime have got to be considered criminals.
B&N.com: What did you do next?
VB: I decided to write an article for The Nation -- I titled it "None Dare Call It Treason" -- and the editors said they got the biggest response from their readers in the 136-year history of the magazine, whereupon the editors asked me to write a book about the case, to elaborate on the article.
B&N.com: How do you feel about those who say, "It's over, let's move on?"
VB: I was saying earlier that these five justices committed one of the biggest and most serious crimes in American history, and yet -- as of this moment -- they've completely gotten away with it. Despite their monumental crime, they're still obviously seated on the Supreme Court, they're still treated with the utmost respect by the established institutions of America, including the mainstream media. Indeed, the mainstream media in America don't even want to talk about what the Court did anymore -- I'm sure there may be some exceptions, but the vast, overwhelming majority of the mainstream media don't want to talk about what the Court did anymore. Their position is: The election's over with, we're moving on to other things.
B&N.com: And that seems hypocritical to you?
VB: This same mainstream media pursued President Clinton not just day after day, not just week after week, not just month after month, but year after year for lying about a private consensual sexual affair. But here there's the theft of the presidency and, in very short order, they didn't want to talk about it anymore. That would be like the Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg saying, "You know, the war is over with -- leave us alone, let's get along with our lives."
Now, obviously, the election being over with is not a defense of what these five Supreme Court justices did and with respect to what they did, I will stake my prosecutorial reputation on the fact that within the pages of The Betrayal of America, I prove beyond all reasonable doubt that these five justices deliberately set out to make sure that George Bush became president. The evidence against them was absolutely overwhelming -- like typical criminals, they left their incriminating fingerprints everywhere.
B&N.com: Can you give me an example of the evidence you're referring to?
VB: They themselves, in so many words, confessed to the crime. Now, how did they confess to the crime? By "necessary implication," when they said that their ruling that different standards to count votes in Florida violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment only applied to Bush v. Gore, not to any other case. But, you see, if the Court's ruling set forth a valid legal principle that was good enough for Bush v. Gore, why wasn't it good enough for other cases? This is the first time in the 210-year history of the Court that the Court limited it to the case before it, saying that it did not constitute legal precedent for any other case. This fact alone, if all by itself (and in The Betrayal of America I offer much, much more evidence), clearly and unequivocally shows that these five justices were up to no good, that they knew their ruling was bogus and fraudulent and only a means to hand the election to George Bush. Because if their ruling was based on the law, there's no reason under the moon why they would have said it does not apply to other cases.
B&N.com: Can you give me another example of evidence?
VB: These justices showed they were up to no good several days before their December 12th ruling. On December 8th, the Florida Supreme Court, under Section 102.168 of the Florida election code, ordered a manual recount of all the undervotes in the state of Florida. The undervotes are the votes that were not picked up by the Votamatic machines, but when you look at them, frequently the intent of the voter is very clear. This undervote was ordered for the 67 counties of Florida, and there were about 60,000 undervotes. The following morning, the recount started on Saturday morning at 8am. At that particular point, Bush's lead had shrunk to 154 votes. At 2pm, Justice Scalia steps in with an emergency order -- this is what he said, I'm not making this up, you can't make up stuff like this, it's too far out -- he said that the recount had to be stopped, because if it continued it could "threaten irreparable harm to George Bush."
So even though the election had not yet been decided, the incredible Scalia -- there's no other adjective I can use to describe this man -- was presupposing that Bush had won the election, indeed had a right to win it, and any recount that showed that Gore had won would cause irreparable harm to George Bush. Now, if any one doesn't believe that this shows that these justices were up to no good -- if this doesn't show it -- I don't know what in the world would.
B&N.com: What do you say to conservatives, who obviously see this from a different perspective?
VB: For any conservative reader, I would ask them to hypothesize the reversal of roles. Let's assume that Gore was ahead on Saturday morning at 8am by 154 votes over George Bush. Would Scalia have done the same thing for Gore as he did for Bush? Well, who is Scalia? Scalia's not a typical Republican or a typical conservative. He's a right-wing ideologue. He's a member of the far right, of the Rush Limbaugh school. To Scalia, someone like Gore is anathema, an execration. It is absolutely inconceivable that Scalia would have intervened, stopped the recount and said that the reason we're stopping it is that if it continues it could cause irreparable harm to Al Gore. That would not have happened, that could not have happened, and anyone who could imagine it happening could imagine seeing someone jump away from their own shadow, or Frenchmen no longer drinking wine.
B&N.com: So what does that mean?
VB: What it means is that the ruling was not based on the law. It was just a means to eventually hand the election to George Bush. That emergency order by Scalia met with disapproval by not just liberal scholars around the country, but many conservative scholars -- one of which was Terence Sandalow, the former dean at the University of Michigan Law School, a judicial conservative who opposed Roe v. Wade and supported the nomination to the Supreme Court of conservative icon Robert Bork. He said that the Court's ruling was incomprehensible and that it was an unmistakably partisan ruling without any foundation in law.
B&N.com: Is there any merit to the equal protection ruling?
VB: Well, the Court itself showed that the ruling had no merit -- that they knew it had no merit -- by saying that it did not apply to other cases. So that's the best evidence. We know that they themselves never believed that there was any merit whatsoever to the equal protection argument.
B&N.com: How are people reacting to the book, on both sides of the argument?
VB: It's a good $10 litmus test for conservatives. If they're honest with themselves, they're going to find out just how much they love America. Or whether their primary allegiance is to the Republican Party.
Liberals, by the way, are getting more angry about what the Court did than they already were -- I'm getting letters from people saying they can't read more than 10 to 15 pages at a time because they're just so angry. One of the talk show hosts that interviewed me a couple of days ago said the same thing; he was just fuming as he was reading the book, said he fumed all the way through.
B&N.com: Why did the Court do what it did?
VB: The motive couldn't possibly be any clearer -- these are five conservative Republican justices that wanted Bush to win. No one would have the crazy audacity to say that these five justices wanted Gore to win and that they personally voted for Al Gore -- no one has even made that argument, and it's too absurd to even talk about. Motive is never an element of the corpus delecti -- the elements of the crime -- that a prosecutor has to prove.
All a prosecutor has to prove is that the defendant did, in fact, commit the crime, not why. We don't have the burden to prove motive. I do talk about motive in the book, but that's not the main thing the book's about. The main thing is presenting the evidence that proves these people deliberately set out to hand the election to George Bush.
B&N.com: What would you do if you could actually prosecute the justices?
VB: If I were to prosecute these people, the evidence is so overwhelming of their guilt that their only defense would be what's called "the character defense." They would call colleagues, dignitaries, etc, and the basic thrust of their testimony would be that these justices are fine, honorable human beings. In effect, the justices would say if they took the stand, "We're wearing robes, we're seated on the highest court in the land, Bugliosi doesn't know what he's talking about, we would never in a million years do something like this."
My position would be, Fine. Now let's look at the evidence. All of it points irresistibly to the fact that these five justices were up to no good -- that they deliberately set out to hand the election to George Bush. If any reader wants to really find out what happened here, they have to disabuse themselves of the notion that because these five justices are seated on the highest court in the land, they simply would be incapable of engaging in criminal conduct. Because if you make that assumption, then you're not going to be receptive to the evidence, nor are you going to be receptive to the common sense inferences from that evidence.
B&N.com: Would you have written the same article if Gore had won the court case?
VB: Yes, because the evidence leads me in the direction that I finally take. Not ideology. I bear no resemblance to the Rush Limbaughs of the world. He has zero credibility. I was opposed to the destruction of the Nixon presidency over Watergate. There's absolutely no question that if the Court had done for Gore what it did for Bush, I'd be writing the same identical article.
B&N.com: What would you say to those to claim that "Bush won anyway?"
VB: We don't know that Bush won anyway.
But let's assume he did. My position is that this is totally and completely irrelevant. Certainly, no one would allege that the Court was clairvoyant. When someone commits a crime, the bell is rung the moment you engage in your conduct, and nothing that happens thereafter can unring that bell and, therefore, it is totally irrelevant. To judge these justices by the final result as opposed to their intentions would be like exonerating someone who shoots to kill if the bullet happens to miss the victim. Or A murders B, and the doctor says, "Well, B was going to die anyway in a couple of days, so I guess we should forgive A's murder of B."
B&N.com: What can average Americans do in the face of all this?
VB: In my opinion, these justices have gotten away with murder, and I want to do everything within my power to make sure that they pay dearly for their crime. I'd like to think that, like most people, I have a sense of justice. I want to tell Scalia and Thomas, et al., remind them of the fact that they forgot that this is America -- not a banana republic. In the United States of America, you simply cannot get away with things like this.
I want the verdict of history to be that these five justices were criminals of the very highest order. When they're at cocktail parties in Washington, D.C., and they're talking to someone, the thought will enter their mind, I wonder if this person has read The Betrayal of America and is thinking I belong behind bars.
I want to expose this crime as much as I can to help insure that this never, ever happens again in America.
B&N.com: Do you think there's any possibility of their being impeached?
VB: Recently, a national legal organization contacted me and said their executive committee is giving very serious consideration to using The Betrayal of America as a legal basis and foundation for asking the House Judiciary Committee to initiate impeachment proceedings against these five justices. Being very realistic, I doubt that Congress will have sufficient spine ever to impeach them. However, the very move for impeachment itself -- the mere consideration of impeachment by Congress -- I think would have enormous symbolic significance.
B&N.com: As a writer, do you feel you were up to the challenge of expressing your outrage in print?
VB: I told my daughter that it would take a Tolstoy, a Shakespeare, a Hemingway to give a reader a good glimpse into the interior, into the soul and marrow of these five justices. But I would suspect that a great writer would be trying to give verbal flesh to the fact that these five justices had no regard, no respect, for 50 million Americans whose votes for Al Gore -- they knew they were erasing as if never cast -- no appreciation for nor sense of responsibility to the majestic and the towering office that they occupy. No concern, apparently, about a betrayal of trust that might be unparalleled in the recorded annals of American history.
Posted August 22, 2003
Basically, from what I gathered from this book, the Supreme Court has taken away the right that each and everyone of us who votes shall have his vote counted. They decided, not the people. Also, according to several reports, around 54,000 people were denied the right to vote because they had names similar to a felon, of those, only about 3,000 were felons and the biggest percentage of those denied were those more likely to vote for Gore. This is wrong for either party, I would much rather take a chance that a felon voted (why should their vote be that terrible anyway) than deny anyone who is legally eligible to vote no matter what party they belong to. That is one of the most important rights a citizen owns and it was stolen from them. There should be an accounting of those people who denied their rights. This book is important for anyone who cares about our rights and our country.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 29, 2003
I thought that this book was written very well. Mr. Bugliosi makes a very clear argument, but misses the point about what the election was really about. Everything in this country is related to politics. If you aren't politically stable then you won't win at anything. The Supreme Court made a very good decision. Although, Gore was a VP for 8 years, Bush had more of a political advance because of his father. The Democrats did try to get recount after recount, and no good results came out from that. Bush won the election fare and square, because Gore's team couldn't present an argument during their trials. I think people should just let the 'bad election' go. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who thinks the constitution can be broken by a higher level of law.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 3, 2002
FORGET ABOUT the recounts, the undervotes, chads, ballots, all those issues. What the author touches on but I wished had elaborated upon more is NEPOTISM. In every other regard this book is thorough and worth reading. The main issue, as I see it, is that the Justices appointed to the court by Bush's father had no right voting in the Bush v Gore case. The right wing will object with 'what about the votes by justices (small j now) appointed by Clinton? Fools! It wasn't Bush vs Chelsea Clinton!!!! No immediate relative of a past president should be permitted to run for president or vice president. As much as I admire Hillary Clinton - the same goes for her. The power of the office makes it to dangerous for nepotism to defeat our system of government. Shame on the Bushs! If something were to happen to 'W' does Jeb think he immediately becomes the next president. WAke up and read this book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 21, 2002
I think the real crime in this case is not the 'theft' of the 2000 election but the two party system that is responsible for producing the two duds we had to choose from. That's like having to choose between having your spleen ripped out or all the hair on your body burned off. It was agonizing. To pull the lever on either of these jokers would have made me sick! We have a choice of over 150 different cereals to eat for breakfast, but only two when it comes to choosing the leader of our country (not the free world). A swing of one vote, and all you crying democrats would have been quite happy. And what kind of job would Gore have done after the 9/11 attacks? How many of you crying democrats gave Bush high positive marks after 9/11? Did I hear someone mention a Coup? Remember Dallas, 1963? The corporate money men who have been running the show in this country, and the world, have been choosing our presidents for us for a long time(and long before 200 you can be sure). All these presidential farces are designed to do is weaken our trust in the presidency and the electoral process, making it easier for us to turn over our nation to some form of global government like the U.N. So cry not for Bush's 'stolen' election, but for the theft of our right as citizens to determine the course of our country. America is now the big bully on the block, demanding that other sovereign nations obey our demands like some two bit pimp ordering around his stable of hookers. We need to remove our rather large nose from everybody else's business and tend to our own declining, rotted culture. By the way, I never even read this book but in the end, underneath all the manure, it remains one man's OPINION! And last I checked, Vince B. has yet to be appointed to the supreme court. Americans are great! America used to be great, and could be again. We as a people must take off our blinders and burst from the pen that the higher powers have us cattled in. Turn off the MTV and ignore Hollywood. Turn on your computer or read a book. Find some truth instead of the lies force fed to us by the controlled media. There is wealth aplenty in this world to care for all the disadvantaged and suffering. The multimillions paid to athletes, entertainers, and corporate fat cats is SICKENING! Anyway, I did like Vince B's Helter Skelter book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 24, 2002
THIS IS THE BEST $10.00 I EVER SPENT!!! Mr. Bugliosi has pulled the covers off the VAST RIGHT WING that Mrs. Clinton mentions. For those who constantly scream, 'THIS NATION IS BUILT ON 'the rule of law, AND NOBODY IS ABOVE THE LAW'. Well, Mr. Bugliosi has used that rule of law to prove that the UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT broke and betrayed those laws. What now??????? Do we do as the right wing tells us - GET OVER IT!!; I say there should be a call to impeach those who took away the rights of the voters in Fla. and the nation. If nothing is done, our claim to be a nation of laws is just so much hogwash.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 12, 2002
Bugliosi starts with a bad premise that there is actually such a thing as an 'undervote'. This was a term coined by the Gore team to attempt to change the rules in the middle of an election by demanding that computer ballots be re-counted by hand, and only in five counties which were known to be democrat. An undervote is a ballot that was incorrectly punched or filled in. Such ballots by law become in-valid, NOT 'undervotes'. Attempting to interpret a hanging chad as a vote for or against Al Gore was a travesty. If they wanted to be fair, then they would have had to hand count every single vote in the entire United States! Luckily, the Supreme Court upheld the law and prevented the continuation of this sham.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 17, 2002
This book is irrelevant. A month or so after the ruling the Democrats counted the votes over and over again, any way they wanted, and they still couldn't come out with more votes for Gore. Of course this was not well publicized in the media, but that is the liberal media screwing with the impressionable minds of America's population again. If people would learn to think for themselves and stop listening to all the disenfranchised bull spouted by the liberal news looking for its next victim, then this would not be an issue. If you are too ignorant to figure out a ballot, then I don't think you should be responsible for choosing the leader of our country. If you are too careless to read the ballot carefully, then you obviously don't care too much about the election in the first place.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 26, 2002
Expecting John Bugliosi to objectively analyze and write about the outcome of the 2000 election is like expecting a doting grand parent to objectively discuss their grand children.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 29, 2001
I'm not a lawyer - never have been, never will be. Most of my friends - in fact, almost all of my friends, aren't lawyers. I don't have anything against lawyers; I do have an interest in laws and legal procedures after looking through state code books at various penalties and violations and their punishments. An awful lot of mind work went into phrasing each law and its reward for disobeying it. A few clinkers got through, but nobody's perfect. Vincent Bugliosi is a lawyer, and a very good one at that. He isn't perfect, either: he won only 105 out of 106 felony jury trials. A record like that will make me sit up and take notice, in regards to lawyers. This guy knows his way around a courtroom, and he knows what he's talking about. So when he calls something a fish in a courtroom, you can bet it will swim, smell, breathe in the water and be eligible to be filleted. And, if he calls someone's trial defense idiotic, or a court ruling treasonous, you can bet that he's got a pretty good handle on the situation. In 'The Betrayal of America,' Bugliosi minces very few words; he gives his opinions (of which there are many), but he has the knowledge, skill, judgment and ability to back them up. For a book spawned by an article, then crafted to be in the outline of a legal argument, it is highly entertaining and enlightening. His arguments are buttressed with court cases and legal rulings, with amplifications and a summary of the proceedings leading up to the final moves of the court, with accompanying notes for that. In the end, as we pass from one incredulous, ignoble, dishonorable move to the next, one should ask, 'How can something like this happen here?' Bugliosi covers the ground as to how it happened here - as politics take precedent over law and honor. He makes thoroughly convincing arguments as to why the whole recount procedure was politically motivated, 'fixed,' as in the words of a certain World Series. To allow something like this to happen in our country casts a shadow on our democracy and makes us hypocrites to countries to whom we criticize their electoral process. Mr. Bugliosi's record and proof have me convinced - read this well-documented book with an open mind, and see for yourself. And then try not to be outraged when you reach the end of the book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 3, 2001
I don't know much I guess, but one thing I do know is that your position is in trouble when your best argument is to attack people rather than their arguments. That is exactly what the author does. He then misrepresents by omission that seven Justices, not five, held that the Florida re-count procedures were unconstitutional. Those who believe that the recount could proceed are simply wrong. Bush had already won the election under Florida law. It was the Florida Supreme Court that tried to steal the election, twice, by rewriting Florida law to suit their clear choice, Al Gore.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 4, 2001
This book is excellent. I went to see Bugliosi speak about his book. I was extremely impressed with his points and work. Before this, it never occurred to me that the US Supreme Court had done anything illegal. What frightens me the most is that, for the first time in his career, Mr. Bugliosi is having trouble getting on national TV to discuss something he wrote. A man of Bugliosi's caliber unable to get TV time to discuss a book about a controversial legal case? That is unheard of!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 27, 2001
I have a few nits to pick with this book, and I've posted them on the bulletin boards of Cafe Utne. But it says what needs to be said, and it says it clearly.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 31, 2001
Bugliosi demonstrates conclusively that William Rehnquist perjured himself repeatedly in his 1972 and 1986 U S Senate confirmation hearings. He also reveals that two justices -- Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas -- should have recused themselves from Bush v Gore: they had relatives working for Bush (Scalia, two sons; Thomas, a wife). He proves beyond question that Sandra Day O'Connor -- Rehnquist's law school 'date' -- announced well before the case came before the Supreme Court that she would do anything, if she got the chance, to install 'W' in the White House. Bugliosi suggests those four -- and longtime Sacramento lobbyist Anthony Kennedy -- should never have been named to the Court in the first place. He argues, sometimes in overheated rhetoric, that they belong in jail. I think he's right.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 8, 2001
A very convincing read, for those left who actually require convincing. It is heartbreaking, however, to know that some Americans choose to sleepwalk through this critical time in history obliviously supporting 'the president you'd feel comfortable having a beer with but wouldn't trust teaching my children to read,' when a crime was committed on the nation by the highest court in the land, declaring George W. Bush President-Select. Bugliosi should be required reading for every 12th grade social studies class, after the scandal becomes exposed in a few years time and time proves Bugliosi dead-on accurate.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 8, 2001
I have not read the book. However, what is interesting is that normal people can see that anyone who has the time to write such a book obviously have some agenda; right or left. What is even more interesting is B&N's treatment of this book and of 'At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election'. Search for this book now and find an 'Editor's Disclaimer' that notes how this book was written from a 'Republican Slant'. No such disclaimer here, even though we know that this book must have been written with a 'Democratic Slant'. Hmmmm...liberal bias in the news media...news media retailers???Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 9, 2001
I highly recommend this book, especially to the republicans who condone this theft,only because the end results benefitted 'THEM'. Anyone with 1/2 an ounce of intelligence, honesty, and ethics can see that what Mr Bugliosi has to say is true.The evidence is there. George W. Bush was handed the election, and tens of millions of democrats were disenfranchised. A judicial Coup d'etat has taken place in the U.S.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 11, 2001
Bugliosi is on point. That America, a country who regularly pontificates on free elections has had this debacle of a coup is shocking. That so few are willing to come out and be outraged is deplorable. Whether you're a Bush or Gore person, you cannot ignore the illegal moves of the so called 'Supreme' Court. They would strike this action in any state suit, but are blatently biased, and bought and paid for in this case. Revolting. What happened offends every man and woman who died for this country, and everyone who has fought for free elections and honest government. Kudos to Bugliosi for taking on the challenge. He should have written more passionately, he writes clinically, and there should be far more spleen on this topic.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 3, 2001
Posted August 9, 2001
Vincent Bugliosi has finally said what needed to be said about Bush v. Gore; that it was a decision rooted not in law or justice or the Constitution, but in politics, and in the worst sort of politics. Bugliosi breaks down the majority decision and shows us in clear layman's terms that the American people were robbed. He tosses away all the legal mumbo-jumbo and makes it absolutely clear that we should be outraged by the Court and Bush's theft of the White House.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 25, 2001
In the current climate of spin control and corporate controlled media, it is refreshing and invigorating when a modern day hero emerges. Vincent Bugliosi is that hero. His heroic act - writing the truth!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.