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Jewish World Review Nov. 23, 2000 /25 Mar-Cheshvan 5761

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas
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Consumer Reports

Raw judicial power --
THE SEVEN LIBERAL, mostly Democratic Justices of the Florida Supreme Court are trying to steal the election from the people. Ignoring laws passed by the Florida Legislature and opening the door for arbitrary decisions by individual, mostly Democratic Florida counties about how, or whether, to count punch card ballots that have not been fully punched, the court has effectively legislated from the bench.

It is true, as the court affirmed, that everyone has a right for their vote to be counted, but it is false that they have an open-ended right to give Al Gore a type of gift that keeps on giving. It is doubly outrageous, political posturing notwithstanding, that large numbers of votes from American military personnel overseas will not be counted. Decisions have been made to invalidate those ballots from ships and dangerous outposts. Here, "the law,'' as interpreted by Democrat officials, will be followed to the last letter. Democrats know those absentee votes would mostly go to George W. Bush and so they've employed technicalities, such as no postmark, to toss out these ballots as their multi-page memo from Democratic operatives had instructed them.

Let's put this ruling on a level even "confused'' voters can understand. Last Monday night, The Washington Redskins beat the St. Louis Rams 33-20. When the clock ran out, suppose the Rams hadn't liked the outcome so they challenged the result, claiming not every fan saw the entire game because heavy traffic prevented the arrival of some in time for the kickoff. Rules were questioned. Fairness was appealed to. The crowd got into it, pelting the referees with invective and trash. The referees gave in and changed the rules, allowing an extra 15 minutes on the clock for the Rams to try to score enough additional points to beat the Redskins. Would anyone think that was fair?

That is precisely what's happened in Florida. The courts are not supposed to make law. They are to interpret it as passed by the people's elected representatives. Otherwise, why do we need legislative bodies? The courts could then decide the law, indeed, they could become a law unto themselves, which is precisely what too many of them have become.

The Bush campaign has practically invited the Florida Legislature to step in and further clarify what deadlines they intended to have honored and which ballots should or should not be counted. Leaving the process to individual canvassing boards and local officials invites different standards to be applied. That all of this is in the hands of mostly Democrats guarantees favorable consideration for Al Gore. Those Teamsters Union members haven't been bused in for vacations.

The court's demonizing of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris is particularly offensive. In the view of the justices, a public official abiding by the letter of the law is not doing her job. According to the court's way of thinking, the law is not the final word; intent and objectives are. Since the intent of the judicial activists and Democratic operatives is to put Al Gore in the White House, ways are to be found to achieve that objective. Democrats, who are far more experienced than Republicans at stealing elections, know what to do.

The Florida Supreme Court has created a dangerous precedent. No matter what the outcome of the latest re-count in Palm Beach and Miami Dade Counties (many other counties have produced Bush victories, but the serial re-counters will keep at it until they "discover'' enough Gore ballots to make him the winner), the Bush campaign should continue the fight. The Florida Legislature should immediately clarify the law and, thus, effectively nullify the court's decision. If necessary, they should display enough guts to select the state's electors, which, under Florida law, they are entitled to do.

Far more is at stake than the ultimate winner of the presidential election. We will also decide whether "we the people'' or raw judicial power will be our ultimate ruler. So far, raw judicial power seems to be in the lead.

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