The bomb under our democracy that already went off

Yesterday, I quoted and linked to a Make My Vote Count entry that referred to Senate malapportionment as a “time bomb” under American democracy. And now we are upon the fifth anniversary of the bomb that did go off: the coup (which is, after all, French for stroke or blow) in which an unaccountable state institution with an interest in the outcome took it upon itself to determine the occupant of the presidency. A very sad day for democracy, and still very much an open wound, in response to which exactly no healing has been done.

Did the five rule on their partisan preference as to who would become President? I don’t know. No one does, and Democrats who make that charge overlook something important: Seven justices are said by the (unsigned) per curiam to have recognized consitutional deficiencies in the Florida Supreme Court decision of December 8. But only five believed that the proper remedy was to stop the process on December 12. Had the contest gone forward, and had a proper standard for recounts been established, Gore might have been found to be ahead and the Republican House might have been forced to make an accountable decision for its candidate or for the one a proper recount had determined had won. Regardless of what the outcome had been there, it would have been democratically preferred to a judicial coup freezing the recount process just as it was getting underway.

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