Published on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 in the San Francisco Chronicle
Author Wants to Oust Justices Over Election
by Carla Marinucci
Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi took on Charles Manson in court and O.J.
Simpson in print. But these days, his target may be a little tougher: the
impeachment of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Bugliosi, author of "The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President" -- comes to Oakland's Grand Lake Theater at 7 p.m. Thursday to make his legal argument that the five members of the Supreme Court who stopped the Florida recount last fall are guilty of "one of the biggest and most serious crimes in the history of the United States."
The justices "intentionally set out to hand the election to George W. Bush, " Bugliosi told The Chronicle last week. "And like typical criminals, they left their fingerprints everywhere."
If his book's standing as a New York Times paperback best-seller is any indication, Bugliosi's accusations aren't disappearing into the ozone.
Nearly 200 days into the presidency of George W. Bush, a faint but persistent drumbeat of protest sounds regarding his election.
Perhaps nowhere in the country is the drumbeat stronger than in the Democratic strongholds of the Bay Area, where a core of impassioned activists continues to raise questions and revisit the precise day and time that changed history: Saturday, Dec. 9, at 2 p.m., when the Supreme Court delivered its emergency order to stop the Florida recount in the case of Bush vs. Gore. .
NOT OVER IT
"'Most Americans who voted for (Al) Gore or (Ralph) Nader have not gotten over it," said John Vance, who founded Berkeley's A First Amendment Center, a community organization focused on opposing Bush's election. "And they'll never get over it."
These days, Vance all but devotes his life to the idea that Bush's election was a fraud. Along Telegraph Avenue and at community meetings, he can be seen peddling anti-Bush bumper stickers and his "Hail to the Thief" memorabilia. His organization, along with Voter March West and Global Exchange, is among a handful of groups co-sponsoring Bugliosi's Bay Area appearance.
Activists like Vance are buoyed -- and angered -- by a recent New York Times investigation of absentee military ballots in the Florida election. The six-month investigation found that "hundreds of absentee ballots from overseas which failed to comply with Florida election laws were accepted, the vast majority in counties carried by George W. Bush."
However, an expert on voting patterns cited in the story said there was only a slight chance that discarding the questionable ballots would have made Gore the winner.
Harvard professor, best-selling author and controversial lawyer Alan Dershowitz has weighed in with his newly released "Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000."
In it, Dershowitz examines the "equal protection" and "irreparable harm" arguments on which the court based its opinion. His conclusion: The court majority delivered the most egregious decision since Dred Scott, one which undermines the court's very credibility.
Those on the other side don't lack for advocates and authors, either.
Washington Times writer Bill Sammon, in his "At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election," argues that thousands of GOP voters in Florida decided not to vote after networks mistakenly called the state for Gore before the polls closed.
Judge Richard A. Posner, of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago, has mounted a defense of the Supreme Court in "Breaking the Deadlock: The 2000 Election and the Courts."
And presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer -- responding to the Times' investigations, the activists and the authors -- says the election is over, and the overwhelming number of Americans have "moved on."
But Riva Enteen, vice president of the 5,000-member National Lawyers Guild, says she gets a daily stream of enraged e-mails and phone calls from progressives still steamed about the outcome.
"It's not dying down," she said. "There appears to be a sentiment that this is an outrage we can't forget."
LEGAL ACTION POSSIBLE
The Lawyers Guild is considering using Bugliosi's book as a legal foundation for asking the U.S. House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings against the Supreme Court majority in the case. Already, a majority of the progressive association's board has recommended the move -- and it will be voted on by the entire legal group in October, she said.
What will come of all this?
Vance, while acknowledging that impeaching Supreme Court justices is a long shot, argues that the debate -- as contentious and passionate as it sometimes gets -- is at the heart of what America is about.
"People say, 'What are you still doing out here?' But we live in a society where there's always going to be controversy and some disagreement."
"It's healthy," Vance said. "That's what keeps us strong as a people."
©2001 San Francisco Chronicle