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The American Spectator


Al Gore as John C. Calhoun?

December 12, 2000

By Max Schulz

The Sunshine State Spectacle has produced numerous instances of Democratic lying, fibbing, and dissembling, from the effort to disqualify legitimate military absentee ballots -- all the while screaming that "every" vote should count-- to the claim that an "angry mob" of Capitol Hill frat boys frightened canvassers into foregoing the legitimate counting of ballots.

Amid all this, though, the Gore camp set new records for disingenuousness with its claim that the Supreme Court shouldn't even be considering the argument it heard yesterday. It isn't the Supreme Court's business, they say.

The state of Florida (and its courts) can handle the situation just fine. Butt out, in other words.

It is an argument Gore made before the Supreme Court last week, and one that he made again yesterday -- albeit with a different counsel (David Boies pinchhitting for the benched Laurence Tribe). "We think it is unfortunate that Governor Bush's campaign has taken this to the courts," said Gore uberlawyer Boies at Sunday's press conference. "But certainly one argument that's very important is that there is no federal question here. This is a matter of state law…. So I think one of the things we would be urging the United States Supreme Court is that this is a matter of state law, state law is deserving of deference, and that the United States Supreme Court ought not to step in and substitute its judgment as to what the intent of the voter was for the judgment of the state officials that, under law, have that obligation."

Fascinating, this seemingly new respect the Gore team has for the principles of federalism.

Let's leave aside the question of whether the Bush camp is being inconsistent in appealing to the federal Supreme Court. (As the New Republic's Andrew Sullivan noted in an exceptional Sunday Washington Post piece, Bush "could argue that he is playing defense -- with some cogency. When your opponent launches a scorched-earth legal strategy, you have little choice but to respond in kind.") What makes Gore and Co.'s display such an astonishing act of chutzpah is that for decades they have consistently rejected, stomped on, undercut, and otherwise abused basic notions of federalism, states' rights, and the idea that law is something produced by democratically selected bodies.

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