In 1994, when Marion Barry was re-elected mayor of Washington D.C. following his troubles with crack cocaine, he famously challenged the many whites in the city to "get over" the results of the election by working with him. Barry, the first chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and very successful D.C. politician, was probably still delirious from his post-prison stint victory when he said it, but many whites in the city were infuriated. But Barry paid a price for gloating. Soon after he took office, the federal government stripped the D.C. mayor's office of all of its powers.
Marion Barry's gaffe came to mind Sunday during a segment on CBS’ “60 Minutes” where current U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia arrogantly stated to those who are still angry about the infamous Bush v. Gore decision of 2000 to "get over it." Scalia, a constitutional originalist (someone should ask him if he still believes in chattel slavery and the sub-human status of blacks), dismissed the notion that the Bush v. Gore decision was political in nature, calling the suggestion "nonsense." Justice Scalia also described the affair as "old" and has never even hinted to anyone that the decision could possibly have been wrongly decided.
Scalia is correct about one thing: the Bush v. Gore decision is old. It has been seven years since it was rendered. Yet, everything else he states about the decision is irresponsible and dangerous considering what the country has endured over these 7 years.
To tell the citizens of the country who disagree with the decision to "get over it" in light of what has occurred as a result of the decision is to deny the importance of his oath as a public servant. Scalia is also ignoring the fact that history, and especially political history, is shaped by real events. Men and women get elected to office and it has ramifications for generations.
Would the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 have passed into law if Sen. Barry Goldwater had somehow been elected president in 1964? If Bobby Kennedy were not murdered in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in California in 1968, would the country have elected Richard Nixon, would it have had to endure anything like the Watergate fiasco? Would the country have inherited a different social and political agenda if Bobby Kennedy were elected rather than Richard Nixon?
In the case of Bush v. Gore, we now know that the outcome had very real policy and constitional implications.
Hardcore conservative commentators like Bruce Fein have been adamant that President Bush has crossed the line numerous times on constitutional issuesand should have been restrained by Congress. Fein has called President Bush's action as a "super-imperial presidency" for his actions regarding violating the privacy rights of ordinary citizens and his many other constitutional transgressions, including the abusive use of signing statements to claim that he is above the law. It is, of course, not easy to correct something that is still ongoing.
These are also specific reasons why we should not get over the Bush v. Gore decision — even if, like me, you have gotten over the decision philosophically. Examine the record, and make your own choices considering the last 7 years. Here are my top 10:
1. Over $500 billion in war costs in the war in Iraq.
2. Vice President Dick Cheney.
No explanation needed.
3. Abu Ghraib.
The treatment of prisoners at the prison was one of the low moments in recent American history.
4. Wiretapping without warrants.
It has yet to be revealed how many Americans had their phones or emails monitored and why they were selected for surveillance.
5.The torture of "war on terror" suspects.
The Bush Administration continues to try to justify this policy by redefining the word "torture,"
6.Supreme Court justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts.
Will they lead the country back to 1929 if one more Republican appointee winds up on the court?
7. The response to the Katrina disaster in New Orleans.
Republican candidate for President, John McCain, criticized the Bush administration's handling of this natural disaster on his recent trip to the city.
8.Rising poverty rate.
The numbers have increased from 2000 to 2005. When it was reported in August 2007 that the poverty rate dipped slightly, President Bush was overjoyed.
9. Over 5 million more people without health insurance since 2001.
10.More than 4,000 American troops killed in the War in Iraq.
Brian Gilmore is a Washington, D.C. lawyer and poet.