I remember twenty years ago when I heard the arguments in Bush v. Gore, and I was proud of the process. I did not agree with the decision, but I believe it was based on the law and not on politics. On December 13, 2000, Vice President Gore, who was disappointed with the outcome, accepted the result. He gave a speech that the country is more important than one person or party. As a result, the U.S. moved on, united with George Bush as president. Gore had won the popular vote, and the difference between Bush and Gore was about 500 votes.
Twenty years later, the election was not that close. Biden’s lead in the contentious states was even greater than Trump’s was in 2016. Yet in 2016, there was no court challenge or otherwise an attack on the legitimacy of results of the election.
Today there is a president who refuses to abide by the will of the people and the rule of law, and has millions of supporters behind him. They espouse beliefs that are extreme and dangerous. They believe that the system, including the courts, the media, and the government, are all in cahoots to make sure that Trump is not sworn in as the next president. They claim that they are defending democracy while engaging in conduct calculated to destroy faith and respect in the democratic system in this country and around the world. Seventy years ago, we called these people communists, and fifty years ago we called them student radicals and Black Panthers.
While this assault on democracy has been occurring, most of the Republican-elected representatives in Congress have been silent. Courage is not a word found in the lexicon of these individuals. They are more interested in protecting their own political futures than looking at what’s best for the country.
One hundred and twenty-six Republican representatives joined the “joke” lawsuit brought by the indicted Texas Attorney to the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn the election results in Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Furthermore, Republican attorney generals from 18 other states joined in support of the case. Texas Attorney General Paxton may have brought this case because he is looking for a pardon. The Republican elected officials may have signed on because of the fear of Trump. It is especially disappointing to see the attorney generals, the head law enforcement officer in these states, put their name on this piece of rubbish. Any first-year law student knew there was no chance of success.
It was left up to the courts to right the ship and administer the rule of law. The Supreme Court of United States showed the president that just because you nominated a person to a position does not make them fix a case for you. Twice in one week they rejected Trump’s and/or supporters’ attempts to set aside the results. First, they refused to accept the request to review the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determination, which dismissed Trump supporter’s lawsuit to set aside the results in Pennsylvania. Then on Friday night the Supreme Court refused to consider the Texas case on the grounds of lack of standing. Texas has no right to object to how any other state administers their election. Two of the judges said that the court should consider the case but would not grant other relief. The other relief requested included setting aside the results and not allowing electors for Biden to certify the results.
The same day, a federal judge and state judge in Wisconsin ruled against Trump and allies. Courts have ruled on the more than fifty lawsuits brought by Trump and friends. The courts involved are state courts with Republican governors, Democratic governors, federal judges in various states including those who were appointed when Trump was president. What they have in common is that they have repeatedly shot down Trump and friends’ claims of voter fraud and other claims of irregularity. Most of the cases were procedure arguments that were also rejected.
On Monday, the electors met and certified that Joseph Biden will be the next President of the United States. The courts applied the rule of law to make sure there was no mischief by Trump and his minions. The system may have bent, but it did not break. The United States has survived other demagogues, other extremists, and even a Civil War, so it will survive Trump’s mischief, but it is unfortunate that it had to come to this.