Daily News from New York, New York on December 15, 2000 · 81
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Daily News from New York, New York · 81

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New York, New York
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Friday, December 15, 2000
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81
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Trinicinri 00 BRIDGE " Page 102 TftllAV IUMV Vso 1HQ IDEAS & OPINION - Dissent that staiiils the dissenters o Of iAa. i: t went on and on for weeks and weeks that seemed like months and months. But r A.M. ROSENTHAL x only at the very end did any participant responsible for upholding the stability and honor of the U.S. government deliberately try to shake public faith in both, now and for the future. Until that soiling moment, the whole Bush-Gore drama for me and many other Americans was evidence of the basic solidity and strength of the American if 1 fit ! ' j r J i I 5 w 13 l 1 1 Ay - ) r , dence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land." They dug the knife deeper: "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." Although we may never know with complete certainty the motives of the three justices, the dissent itself proves the danger of the Supreme Court or courts not so supreme encouraging contempt for the judiciary. As the dissent itself says: "It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law." Did the three dissenters think their sweeping, overblown denunciation of the court's majority decision was building confidence in the judicial system of which are supposed to be the calm interpreter and guardian? Did they care? Could they think of no way to put their dissent other than to question the legitimacy of the President-elect and to predict a public loss of confidence in the judiciary? Did they think the power granted to them by their presidential appointments includes slathering contempt over their colleagues and, without any evidence whatsoever, issuing doomsday warnings about the future of the judiciary? It is my right to do that, and yours, and Jesse Jackson's, without penalty. Justices of the court also share that constitutional right. But if they have not learned to write or talk without unnecessary predictions and accusations that damage the judicial system they are supposed to protect, they should practice harder. The best practice is what I always recommended to reporters: Substitute your own name for the people or organization you are slandering, read it over, and if there is another way that would not do unnecessary damage to the person or institution involved, tear it up and write it again. If they tried that, the justices would be surprised at what they would learn about themselves and how often they rub their ring finger over someone else's face just because they have the power to do it. system. It showed itself capable of making serious mistakes, yes, but also capable of providing political opponents with the machinery of complaint, exposure and settlement with mutual agreement or not, but without violence or disdain of the government's ability to function decently. Al Gore had every moral and legal right to fight as long and hard as he could. When the Supreme Court ruled against him, he gave up and recognized George W. Bush as the next President. He said it with grace and without threat of malice to come. President-elect Bush and his team fought the Gore legal apparatus every step of the way, as was their right and duty. During the final days of the drama, the U.S. Supreme Court hearings, Bush kept his public comment down to a wave of the hand toward photographers. After the ruling that made him President-to-be, he spoke of Gore with respect and delicacy. Yes, of course, if you wish, you can think of all that as simply part of a meaningless minuet. But you would be wrong. Without the music and an understanding of how important it is at critical times and how much balm it can bring to wounds, the dance stops. Or never begins. Brawl time resumes without the opponents having had enough time to think of how they can deal with each other tomorrow, maybe even with civility. But as the presidential candidates were trying to give The Supreme Court & lone guard on Tuesday night. the country relief from bitterness, three members of the U.S. Supreme Court were spreading acid on the public body. Their dissent from the majority decision seemed intended to shake public confidence not only in that opinion which is the purpose of dissent but in the judicial system itself, which they serve and represent every day of their lives. The dissent written by Justice John Paul Stevens was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. I doubt they will remain proud of it. It said the court's endorsement of the Bush struggle against still more vote counting can "only lend cre Dems made it a court case & got what they deserved Bush'll be good for us, sorta that would produce the most legitimate possible outcome. Well, it went forward. Gore lost the count. He then lost the case. We were on the threshold of legitimacy and finality. The country was ready to accept Sauls' ruling. So was Gore, who had his concession speech prepared. Reenter the Florida Supreme Court, with gusto. In an astonishing burst of willfulness, it reversed the trial court judge and created a statewide, undervote-only recount to be completed in Democratic partisans complain that the presidential election has been settled not by the people, but by judges. This is amusing. Who turned this into a lawyers' contest anyway? Within hours of Election Night, the Gore campaign parachuted dozens, ultimately hundreds, of lawyers into Florida with one objective: to find judges to undo their loss. They went judge shopping, court shopping, venue shopping, loophole shopping. They sued everywhere and anywhere: to overturn the "illegal" butterfly layoffs have already begun. But New York's economy marches to a different drummer than the rest of the nation, so a recession need not be lethal to the city. It may merely force a lot of New Yorkers to rediscover the city's museums and parks rather than rent villas in Tuscany. What's more, a slowdown in the surging office market and a return to normalcy in the cost of housing will allow more firms and households to remain in New York. It may even be possible to have lunch at the top-rated By MITCHELL L MOSS With George W. Bush soon to be inaugurated, New Yorkers will have to learn to live with, if not love, our next President. While Bush was not the choice of most New Yorkers, he may actually breathe new life into our city in ways not fully understood or appreciated: The Bush presidency will improve traffic. Unlike Bill Clinton, whose frequent visits to the city turned mid-town "frozen zones" into a CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER Union Square Cafe without a reservation. Finally, with Republicans in control of the White House and Congress, we can expect a new wave of immigrants not from Asia or Latin America, but from the District of Columbia. Displaced Democrats will pour into New way of life, Bush prefers the isolation of his Crawford, Tex., ranch to the dinner parties and nightlife of New York. With any luck, he'll limit his visits here to those perfunctory United Nations conferences that can only be held when the world's leading tyrants have temporarily eliminated -any Fewer presidential visits to clog midtown . traffic ballot m Palm Beach; to force selective manual recounts in heavily Democratic counties; to impose on these counties scandalously loose criteria forjudging voter intent (the notorious dimpled chad). They sent lawyers to every county to disqualify overseas ballots; Democratic activists sued to throw out 25,000 valid absentee ballots in Seminole and Martin counties. Where did they expect all this lawyering to wind up, if not four days without uniform standards. The U.S. Supreme Court found that this scheme, dreamed up in the name of fairness, was so arbitrary and capricious as to be not only unfair, but unconstitutional. Not five but seven justices found it offensive to elementary notions of equal protection. Associate Justice David Sout-er, who agreed that there were constitutional problems wkh the recount, dissented nonethe York, where they will conspire to win back City Hall and the governor's mansion from the Republicans and build a post-Clinton Democratic Party. In fact. New York City and New York State, which together have a combined budget of about $1 10 billion, are the only governments capable of absorbing all the Democratic speechwriters, policy analysts and bureaucratic apparatchiks who are about to be thrown out of work. New York will be a "safe harbor" for out-of-work liberals, a lively cultural outpost for political plots and intrigue. New Yorkers can learn to live with the new President. We've survived the Dutch, the British and even Rudy the Conqueror. Bush should be a breeze. Moss is Henry Hart Rice professor of urban policy and planning at New York chance of a coup d etat and can slip away for a few days to Manhattan. The centerpiece of the Bush presidential campaign was an across-the-board fcix cut accompanied by the elimination of the estate tax. A Bush tax cut will not only let New York's middle-income-and-up households keep more of their earnings, but will allow wealthy New Yorkers to preserve their estates and pass on their wealth to their kids rather than their favorite museum or university. This will create a boom for our financial and legal-services industries, even as it compels cultural institutions to be more innovative in the search for philanthropic dollars. After almost a decade of economic growth, the nation is destined for a Bush recession. Natural gas prices are at an all-time high, the dollar is overvalued, and m the U.S. Supreme Court.' After five weeks of testing every legal mechanism to overturn the results, they are now shocked thai the Supreme Court has determined the identity of the next President. Live by the courts, die by the courts. The Democrats, nonetheless, now impute illegitimacy to the final outcome because it was decided by the high court. But who is the real agent of illegitimacy in this saga? Has everyone forgotten where we were last Friday? After a trial, Circuit Court Judge Sanders Sauls had resoundingly, methodically rejected Gore's challenge to the second recount. That recount had been granted by the Florida Supreme Court in a victory crats had cheered lustily. It was said at the time: Let that recount, however questionable, go forward, and if Gore fell short, less from the majority, arguing that the Supreme Court should have stepped aside and let the process continue. "It is entirely possible that . . . political tension could have worked itself out in the Congress" meaning, Congress selecting the President by choosing between a Gore and a Bush set of electors. . . . Would that have been better? No. Political tension would only have grown this would nothave been resolved until next month! and created a train wreck. The majority of the court wisely declined this reckless invitation to a true constitutional crisis a crisis created by the willfulness of a rogue state Supreme Court and averted by a U.S. Supreme Court that decided finally to step in and play daddy to a court playing God. o rt to o o o

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