Man Without Qualities

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Davis Descending XX: Another Big Non-Surprise

In one of the recall elections biggest non-surprises, the Republican appointed California Supreme Court has decided not to intervene in the recall madness and, in particular, will not bail out Gray Davis by giving a totally bizarre reading to fairly obvious constitutional language (as he requested) for no good reason! This development comes hard on the heels of Dianne Feinstein's decision not pointlessly to enter the recall election and thereby bring massive chaos and bitter feeling into her otherwise comfortable life.

Tomorrow's non-surprises: None of the Justices will put his or her head in a gas oven! And they will all try to maintain their chambers at around 72% F, rather than, say, 106% F!

The several remaining federal law suits have the particular logic and charm of some of Roald Dahl's wilder efforts, especially a case filed in Los Angeles by the American Civil Liberties Union alleging that some of the state's 58 counties are ill-prepared to carry out a vote by Oct. 7, and that others would be forced to use voting machines they had promised a federal judge they would discard by March. Of course, those are the voting machines that have served California without significant complaint for decades - while the electronic version that are to replace them have recently been found also to be subject to great possible error and even greater possible fraud. And even "pop" or "snap" elections in many countries - Britain, for example - are routinely held after only six weeks of campaigning, with no apparent damage to the democracy.

But, heck, this is California! One can find a daffy federal judge to believe almost anything here. Perhaps as a result of that suit the federal judge in charge will have the courage to take recent federal jurisprudence to its logical conclusion and declare that no elections can be held anywhere in the United States until fully reliable voting machines that are easily understandable even by morons have been invented and distributed - and declaring that no such machines exist now. Therefore, until further notice, the country will be entirely run by the judiciary exercising equity jurisdiction.

UPDATE: Garamendi is in. And, in another big non-surprise, Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Thursday derided the race as "a first-class carnival" and called two new entrants, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, opportunists.

UPDATE: The Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore provides no substantial support for the injunctive relief sought in Los Angeles federal court action, except, perhaps, in the mind of a opportunistic, partisan federal judge (of which there are plenty) or a legal academic willfully misconstruing the Court's holding out of all context. That the California Supreme Court rejected the exact same arguments without dissent or concurrence should be suggestive of how insubstantial the ACLU arguments really are. Substantively, Bush v. Gore depended critically on the peculiar timing of that case (there was no time left). It is not a Supreme Court writ of authority for federal district courts to upset long established, mostly trouble-free election procedures where no actual crisis, or even a problem, exists. Efforts such as the ACLU is making in Los Angeles to the contrary are fatuous misreadings out of context. Much of the legal academic professoriate and the mainstream media views Bush v. Gore with a hostility so intense that it is all but impossible for them to understand its limitations. But this much can be guaranteed: The Supreme Court does not share a view of its decision that casts it as the free-form federal court power grab urged by the ACLU in Los Angeles. And any lower court - including the California Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit and the Central District of California in Los Angeles - which does not want to be summarily and brusquely reversed by the Supreme Court (as the Ninth Circuit frequently is - and would be in this case) will not accept the ACLU's weird and attenuated reading of Supreme Court precedent. That Mark D. Rosenbaum of the ACLU describes its action as an attempt to force from the federal constitution the principle that the process for buying "lottery tickets should not be more reliable than voting for the governor of California" should be taken as a concession that the ACLU is whistling in the dark. But most legal academics and most media representatives are too far gone to understand that.

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