Cultural Revolutions

Exit to Political Oblivion

Al Gore's exit to political oblivion has no doubt delighted many conservatives. But there is nothing for conservatives to cheer about in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore, the instrument of Gore's demise.

The unsigned majority opinion concluded that Florida's recount procedures violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, because no uniform standard was used in the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court to determine what constituted a valid vote. This conclusion was somewhat surprising because Florida's election statutes, like those of most other states, merely charge those counting the votes to determine the "intent of the voter." In other words, the U.S. Supreme Court found fault with Florida's Supreme Court not because it had vitiated Florida's statutory election scheme, but because the Florida court had not made up a new standard for counting votes to go along with its other misreadings of the legislature's intent.

The U.S. Supreme Court's attempt to ensure the "equality" of all votes is sure to invite further federal intervention in state elections. One can easily envision, for example, a black candidate challenging his defeat in federal court on the grounds that poorer minority districts often use older voting machines that produce more spoiled ballots. The majority inserted some language to try to guard...

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