Alexander's Column

Gore's Coup De Tort

Mark Alexander · Dec. 8, 2000

By now our readers are aware that Albert Gore’s Coup De Tort has been resuscitated once again by the Florida Supreme Court (all seven of whom, you recall, are Democrats), restoring, at least temporarily, the “controlling legal authority” he needs to add subjective “by hand” recounts to his Florida column in order to obtain that state’s electors – and the presidency.

Because of the constitutional implications of the court’s highly debatable ruling Friday afternoon, The Federalist is releasing this special bulletin.

Though Democrat Leon County Judges Terry Lewis and Nikki Clark denied motions by Gore to throw out more than 25,000 absentee ballots earlier in the day – rulings which Gore immediately appealed to his gang of seven on the State Supreme Court – it was the Supremes’ split decision to overturn Monday’s ruling by circuit court judge Saunders Sauls which surprised most parties – especially on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s admonition of the Florida high court for its extra-constitutional activism.

As we reported Tuesday, Judge Sanders Sauls, also a Democrat, ruled there is no basis for Gore’s insistence on further recounts. “The plaintiffs have failed to carry the requisite burden of proof,” said Sauls. “In this case, there is no credible evidence…to establish…that the results of the election in Florida would be different from the results certified by the election canvassing board. [There is no] illegality, dishonesty, gross negligence, improper influence, coercion or fraud in the balloting and counting processes.”

But the Florida Supremes, in a contentiously divided 4-3 vote, ordered a by-hand recount of all ballots from which machine counts could not discern a presidential preference. In protest, Judge Sauls has recused himself from any further proceedings related to this case.

Writing the dissenting opinion for the Florida court was its Chief Justice, Charles Wells, who said in summation: “I could not more strongly disagree with their [the majority’s] decision to reverse the trial court and prolong this judicial process. … I also believe that the majority’s decision cannot withstand the scrutiny, which will certainly immediately follow under the United States Constitution. … More importantly…I have a deep and abiding concern that the prolonging of judicial process in this counting contest propels this country and this state into an unprecedented and unnecessary constitutional crisis. I have to conclude that there is a real and present likelihood that this constitutional crisis will do substantial damage to our country, our state and to this court as an institution.”

Chief Justice Wells added that the majority decision had “no foundation in the law of Florida” and the majority ignored “the magnitude of their decision” – typical of such judicial activism.

At present, Mr. Bush’s lawyers are seeking a stay of the Florida court’s decision, while they, again, are forced to seek constitutional protection for all voters by appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is the considered opinion of your Editorial Board that the nation is now closer to an overt constitutional crisis than at any time since Gore first challenged the November 7th victory of George Bush – or, for that matter, at any time since Richard Nixon’s unlawful involvement in the Watergate cover-up 28 year ago.

We reiterate that Gore’s strategic objective, if he cannot obtain the votes necessary by hand recounts, is to prolong his legal challenge to Mr. Bush’s victory beyond December 12, in an effort to force the election into Congress, thus winning a tripleheader by discrediting the potential Bush presidency, the Republicans in Congress who might seat him, and the Republicans in the Florida legislature poised to choose a new slate of Electors.

For Gore, the endgame is one of political bloodlust. For the nation, it may prove to be the undoing of our republic’s constitutional integrity – to the detriment of continuity of government and commerce.

In Federalist 00-49, we quoted Leonard Read on the economy: “A good economy is analogous to a sponge; it can sop up a lot of mess. But once the sponge is saturated, the sponge itself is a mess. The only way to make it useful again is to wring the mess out of it.”

Replacing the word “economy” with “republic,” the quote frames a more critical point: “A good republic is analogous to a sponge; it can sop up a lot of mess. But once the sponge is saturated, the sponge itself is a mess. The only way to make it useful again is to wring the mess out of it.”

By Monday, we will know what options Mr. Bush may possess to fight the unlawful certification of Mr. Gore’s pending “victory.” At that time, The Federalist Editorial Board will again address what moral and fitting responses we believe millions of patriotic Americans might exercise in defending our liberties against the encroachment of possible tyranny.

In the interim, it is important to remain vigilant as justice and liberty have but few remedies left within the existing structures of our constitutional government, but we – and all Americans – are obligated to be patient and pursue those courses of action to their full conclusion.

That having been said, here are a few observations from Federalist Bulletin 00-47-2. We are reprinting them as context for the appropriate interpretation of events in the coming days and weeks. Though you may have read them two weeks ago, we encourage you to read them again.

FIRST, our founding mission statement reads in part: The Federalist is an advocate of individual, family and community governance, rights and responsibilities as espoused by our nation’s Founders, and as originally intended by our Declaration of Independence and its subordinate guidance, our Republic’s Constitution, as explicated by The Federalist Papers. Some of our readers have questioned the assertion that our Constitution is “subordinate” to the Declaration of Independence.

Our Constitution is clearly subordinated by the opening clause of the Declaration: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them…. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

To that end, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The tree of liberty must be watered periodically with the blood of tyrants and patriots alike. … Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”

SECOND, we printed these quotes, now four weeks ago, in preparing our readers’ spirit for the potential storm over the horizon. In light of the impending “constitutional crisis” of which Chief Justice Wells wrote, we thought it useful to provide them again.

“If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” –Samuel Adams ++ “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” –Benjamin Franklin ++ “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God, I know not what course others may take, but give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry ++ “The principle for which we contend is bound to reassert its self, though it may be at another time and in another form. Whatever tended to lead the people of any of the states to feel that they could be relieved from their constitutional obligations by transferring them to the federal government, or that they might otherwise evade or resist them, could not fail to be like the tares which the enemy sowed amid the wheat. The Union of states, formed to secure harmony among the constituent states, could not, without changing its character, survive such alienation as rendered its parts hostile to the security, prosperity, and happiness of one another.” –Jefferson Davis

THIRD, our readers have noted our very persistent defense of Second Amendment rights. As noted by James Madison’s Supreme Court appointee, Justice Joseph Story, “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.” In light of the dawning of this potential constitutional crisis, let there be no question that the Second Amendment, indeed, “offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers.”

AND A FINAL THOUGHT ON JUDICIAL ACTIVISM…

“You seem…to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all Constitutional questions: a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one, which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. …And their power (is) the more dangerous, as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots.” –Thomas Jefferson

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