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Monday November 27, 2000

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The ol' switcheroo

Headline Photo

By Sheila Bapat

Arizona ought to give Florida a Christmas present: a gigantic box of Sharpie markers.

After all, that's what we Arizonans use in our voting booths; we ought to spread our discovery to less enlightened parts of the country. If they had some Sharpies, and some high-tech ballot-counting machines, the rest of the country wouldn't have to hear about those God-forsaken pregnant chads.

Or about how recounting them is unfair, because the ideological bias of the counters might mess up the counting.

Clearly, ideology and ballot-counting machines never change.

But the Constitution does, depending on who is controlling it.

What Americans can learn from this whole circus that is the presidential election is that people like to use this document we hold sacred. They like to use state constitutions, and the United States Constitution, in ways that defend their own ideologies.

Katherine Harris, a staunch Republican and G.W. supporter-especially since her superior is his brother-believes the outcome of the election rested on her shoulders. She denied the Gore camp's appeal for a hand recount.

The Florida Supreme Court, slated with a bunch of Gore-loving Democrats, decided the recount was okay. Go figure.

Now, the United States Supreme Court gets to prove which team it plays for. George W. Bush decided to take his case to the highest court in the land. The court decided Friday that it would hear the case this Friday.

Of course, the United States Supreme Court was probably feeling left out of the national hullaballoo and had to accept Bush's appeal right away. What the High Court will do is examine the decision of Florida's blatantly biased Supreme Court. Their decision was, of course, a response to Florida Secretary of State's blatantly biased position on the recount.

If only the United States Supreme Court could rule against blatant partisanship.

It's predictable how both camps are so opportunistic during this bizarre circus. Democratic talking heads have suddenly become states-rights lovers and Republican talking heads have become obsessed with making this a federal issue.

This little switcheroo could just be the beginning. Next thing you know, Bush will be a tree-hugger and a gay-lover, and Gore will be making speeches at Bob Jones University and mispronouncing words.

And it's not just elected officials and the courts that are guilty of this hypocrisy. People who love Bush or Gore will love their man through thick and thin, even if it means dissing on their most blessed principles.

Enter George Will.

This other conservative G.W. fan is a fellow columnist. And he is all about upholding states rights when it comes to school vouchers or prayer in public places. His view is, why make it federal when a state could take care of it?

Except, of course, when a state Supreme Court is filled with Democrats. Any kind of state decision that disses on the other G.W. is just unacceptable to this arch conservative. In his Sunday Washington Post column, Will composed a diatribe of the Florida Supreme Court. He chided the court for exercising too much power, and in doing so defying the founder's original intentions. He accuses it of "lawlessness," of "legislating," of being a beacon of liberalism instead of what it should be, an interpreter of the Florida constitution.

Had Bush been in Gore's position, G.W. the columnist would have been praying for the Florida Supreme Court to legislate like crazy.

But no, since it is slated with Democrats, it's being as expeditious and obnoxious as all liberals are-in George Will's eyes.

What is most amusing is the idea that courts are not biased. In grade school we are taught about the courts as if they are some holy group of people who can use ESP to find out what the founders actually had in mind and interpret it just the way James Madison and Alexander Hamilton wanted them to.


Their bias is what makes their appointment so critical. The Florida Supreme Court proved its bias. Some might think Florida needs a new court because of this. Others might think they need a new Secretary of State. And then some others might just want to rewrite their state constitution.

If they do, they ought to invest in some Sharpies.