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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kangaroo Court?, 10 May 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000 (Hardcover)
Remember the names of Scalia, O'Connor, Kennedy, Rehnquist, and Thomas. Those are the justices who produced the worst Supreme Court decision in over 100 years. How many decades will it take to undo the damage to the Supreme Court's credibility that they caused with the nonsense decision and opinion in Bush versus Gore during the recounts in Florida? I don't know, but Professor Dershowitz should be commended for calling these justices on the carpet for injudicious use of their power.
As a lawyer, I used to feel comfortable with the Supreme Court's ability to handle important issues. Whether I agreed with the conclusion of the case or not, I could predict the line of argument that led the court to its decision. I also knew that the court would try to intervene as little as possible. The only time that comfort level was violated was when the second Supreme Court decision came in Bush versus Gore and included a stay of the recount in Florida. I was flabbergasted. This book helps me to understand how such a result could have occurred. Every attorney, lawmaker, and citizen who cares about having a government of fairly administered laws should read this book, and take appropriate action to see that whatever happened in Bush versus Gore in the Supreme Court does not recur.
Professor Dershowitz makes a bold claim that "the unprecedented decision of the five justices to substitute their political judgment for that of the people threatens to undermine the moral authority of the high court for generations to come." "I believe that they would not have stopped a hand recount if George W. Bush had been seeking it." "In this book, I marshal the evidence in support of this charge."
The book describes in a layperson's terms the legal issues behind the case, and goes on to provide hypotheses about what happened.
Basically, two laws were in conflict in Florida. One called for elections to be certified by a certain date (determining who won and lost). The other called for the ballots to be counted in order to ascertain the intent of the person voting. For over 200 years, it has been established law that courts should decide such conflicts of laws. The Supreme Court of Florida had done so, and concluded that the recounts should continue. Candidate Bush appealed that decision. The Supreme Court of the United States took the case (something that it did not have to do), and remanded the case back to the Supreme Court of Florida for further clarification. That action seemed both proper and appropriate. Then candidate Bush appealed again, and the Supreme Court of the United States heard the case again (which it did not have to do).
The national Supreme Court voted 5-4 to stay (stop) the recount process, pending arguments, arguing that to allow the recounts to continue would cause irreparable harm to candidate Bush. The effect was to bring the electoral victory to candidate Bush. That decision made then and makes now no legal sense. There was no irreparable harm done to anyone by letting the recount continue. There was irreparable harm to those who ballots were discounted and to candidate Gore by stopping the recount. I cannot fathom this decision. It is the sort of thing that happens in tin-horn dictatorships all of the time to legitimize the conclusions of the person in power.
The final decision then rested on an argument that equal protection under the laws required that the certification law hold sway over the accurate counting law. This is the first time that that section of the Constitution had ever reduced the rights of voters. In the past, it had been used to expand the rights of people to have their votes included and counted. The origin of the section was to deal with racial descrimination against blacks after the Civil War so that their ability to vote would be protected. Now, suddenly, the intent of that part of the Constitution was being used to say that some votes didn't count. That's a very strange argument. In the future, that argument could be used to deny the ballot to minorities and people whose opinions are not popular.
The Supreme Court of the United States also said that the Supreme Court of Florida had no right to decide on the conflict of laws issue. There is simply no legal basis for that conclusion.
The problem with these arguments is that they would undermine all sorts of cases from the past. What is the lawnow, as a result? The Supreme Court of the United States said that they would interpret the law this way only in this one case. In other words, they made up the law to fit a compromise that they reached behind closed doors. That's not law, that's dictatorship!
Professor Dershowitz found lots of potential motives. He finds possible reasons for this conclusion for each of the five justices. O'Connor is reputed to want to retire and be replaced by another Republican judge. Having Bush be elected obviously would help. Kennedy apparently wants to be the next chief justice, and has a better chance with Bush. Thomas may want revenge against former Senator Gore's opposition to his nomination. Scalia may want to have more colleagues of his ideological persuasions be appointed. Rehnquist is described as continually meddling on behalf of Republicans in earlier decisions. Whether these motives were in play or not, many will believe that they were. That will hurt the court's credibility.
Obviously, the five justices could decide the case in whatever way they thought the law required. But they owed the rest of us a duty to follow the plain words of the law and legal precedents in the Anglo-Saxon tradition. They did not meet this test. Whether you wanted one candidate or the other to be elected, you were robbed by this decision.
Since these justices are still sitting, Professor Dershowitz argues that the problem can only be solved by appointing better justices who know the law and behave in the ways that Supreme Court justices have done for over 200 years. I agree. Whether you are an Independent, a Republican or a Democrat, I hope you will, too.
We need fairness in the Supreme Court more than anywhere else. What's more, we need the appearance of fairness just as much!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The US Legal System Can Be Understood (with the right guide), 30 Sept. 2003
The events, which surrounded the unprecedented intervention, by the US Supreme Court in the 2000 presidential election results for the State of Florida certainly left me, an outsider perplexed. It was therefore with some anticipation that I obtained a copy of of ‘Supreme Injustice’. In this work the author asserts with clarity that the Supreme Court ignored not only previously established conventions but also that individual justices voted contrary to their previously recorded convictions, all for personal or political reasons. He then issues balanced warnings that in doing so this once hallowed institution may well have not only compromised itself in future cases, but also left the American legal system shaken as to its own ultimate integrity. This chastening work does end on a positive note with an offered solution, which thankfully relies upon the democratic process.
Books that deal with complex issues tend to fall into three categories. Firstly there are those written by experts for the professional or very gifted amateur, so the rest of us leave them alone. At the opposite end there are those written for the ‘layman’, these tend to dumb down and patronise. Then there are works, which challenge the reader, unfamiliar, but curious about the issues and topics. This book I am pleased to say falls into the last category.
So be warned that this is not an undemanding read; Mr Dershowitz uses legal terms and concepts with all the free and easy grace of an expert. His skill is that these are woven into the narrative in such away that someone with no idea of how the US legal system operates at this very complex level is able to understand what was happening and what were the issues being raised. But it does require your concentration and thought. True I had to read some passages over and over and refer to entries in several pages of detailed notes, which actually offer explanations rather than references to another work. But I enjoyed that part. Me a simple ‘Brit’ comprehending facets of the US legal system! This is not just an account, but also a literary challenge, something which is hard to come by these days, and very rewarding one too. In addition to providing the reader with a path through the labyrinthine events of the 2000 presidential election, the author backs up his arguments with impeccable quotes from across the American political spectrum. The most refreshing aspect is that the author does not bandy ‘Conspiracy’ around; his account portrays something far more worrying; Opportunistic Favouritism in action as the whole convoluted process was played out. A very chilling thought to remind us that we should not be either complacent or apathetic about our democracies.
I would recommend this book to anyone with a concern about the workings of democracies for Mr Dershowitz has shown quite clearly how sometimes the Will of the People can be circumvented in the most civilised and legal of ways.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a damning indictment of the current Supreme Court., 15 Jan. 2002
This review is from: Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000 (Hardcover)
We all know now that Gore should have won the 1999 presidential election on almost any measure. The reason he is not in the White House is largely down the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v Gore which ended the Florida recounts and effectively installed George W. Bush, the right-wing poster boy, in the presidency.
Dershowitz is at his most brilliant when he explodes the myth of judicial impartiality on the bench of the current Supreme Court. He shows that if the litigants had been ananymous then each and every of the 5 Justices who found for Bush would have found for Gore -- their reasoning in this case being utterly out of step will all previous announcements and indeed contrary to their deepest held beliefs.
Dershowitz is more shaky in attemping to explain the motivations of the Justices individually in abandoning their principles. But it comes down to pure party advantage. The book leaves one very depressed. America is the embodiment of democracy and a beacon for so much of the world. But the fact that the president can be decided by judicial fiat reflects most badly on the five small-minded individuals who made this decision.
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Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000
Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000 by Alan Dershowitz (Hardcover - 1 July 2001)
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