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
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
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