Gun control inverts the presumption of innocence. It attempts to tar millions of people with the guilt of a few thousand. It is collectivist, and attempts to regulate harmless individual behavior in the name of a nebulous and questionable greater good. It imposes penalties on people who have committed no actual crime, and who have caused no harm and threaten no harm to anyone. By imposing prior restraint, gun control flies in the face of much of the American legal tradition.
The purpose of corporal punishment is not to physically hurt the child. It is to teach him that punishment follows sin. This is, to the Christian, to people of other faiths, and to many secularists, a reality of the universe that must be imparted to the child for his own well-being. It need not really hurt or be very frequent if done properly and begun at an early enough age.
A week ago many readers objected to TMQ's statement that the Bush vs. Gore legal contest was "over in the first quarter because the Florida Supreme Court fumbled the United States Constitution." Craig Heckman of Simsbury, Conn., countered that the United States Supreme Court "should have been called for illegal procedure and unsportsmanlike conduct" since the Court's conservative majority says it advocates states' right, yet the Bush v. Gore lawsuit ended when the Supremes refused to let Florida complete its third recount.
TMQ carries no brief for the Supremes' final decision on the 2000 election. The United States Supreme Court should have let Florida proceed to the bitter end on grounds of the very federalism that, Heckman rightly points out, the Supremes advocate on other matters. Technically, the Court's game-ending whistle was an injunction, and injunctions are justified to prevent "irreparable" harm. Nothing would have been "irreparable" about letting the final zany, wacky, "midnight recount" imposed by the Florida Supreme Court proceed.
We now know from the media-run Recount of the Recount of the Recount that George W. Bush almost certainly would have won the final recount anyway, and then the United States Supreme Court would have needed take no action. If Gore had won the third recount, the Supremes could have debated whether to reverse the outcome. In either case, letting the zany, wacky third recount proceed would have been wiser, and there's no doubt the United States Supreme Court's action to stop the third recount was politically motivated.
But also there's no doubt the Florida Supreme Court was politically motivated. Bush wins the original tally, then wins the mechanized recount. The Florida Supreme Court, as brazenly pro-Gore as the Washington court was brazenly pro-Bush, steps in and imposes a hand recount whose terms openly defy the Electoral Count Act of 1877, which Congress passed after the Hayes-Tilden election specifically with this situation -- disputed slate in one state that can determine the national outcome -- in mind. Bush then wins the hand recount, making him 3-for-3. Meanwhile, United States Supreme Court issues its first ruling, saying the Florida judges don't seem to understand the Electoral Count Act and ordering the Sunshine State court to explain its reasoning. The Florida judges refuse! Given a direct order by the United States Supreme Court, the Florida Supreme Court repudiates the United States Supreme Court, since the Florida judges know they can't give any coherent explanation of their first set of orders.
TMQ has always thought the Florida court's snub of the Supreme Court (Florida judges issued an explanation only many weeks later, when the dispute was over and no one cared) was the overlooked momentum-changer in the whole recount mess. How could anyone with a One L understanding of the Constitution think a state court could simply refuse to answer a direct instruction from the United States Supreme Court? Rebuffing a direct instruction from the United States Supreme Court made several Supremes think the Florida Supreme Court was a bunch of buffoons. Sandra O'Connor, prominently, swung to the end-the-recounts position when she concluded that the Florida Supreme Court was under the control of buffoons.
Al Gore was destined to be picked off in the 2000 presidential election -- no matter what the U.S. Supreme Court did.
Then the Florida Supreme Court imposed its wacky, zany "midnight recount" plan, whose distinguishing feature was that it compelled different vote-validating standards for different counties, based on guesses about what would favor Gore. In so doing, the Florida court violated the due-process clause of the 14th Amendment. One tenet of due process is that any particular level of government must treat everyone the same. Thus, different counties in Florida could enact different vote-counting standards, so long as within any given county -- within the level of government -- all standards were the same for everyone. Thus, Illinois might have one standard for chads and Texas a different standard, as was the case in 2000, so long as everyone within each state was treated the same. But the state of Florida could not mandate that some counties use one counting standard and other counties use another -- that would constitute one level of government (in this case the state of Florida through its Supreme Court) not treating all citizens the same. When the Florida Supreme Court imposed different recount standards for different counties, it generated a due-process violation. A relatively small one, to be sure, but this Constitutional violation practically begged the United States Supreme Court to step in.
And though the Supremes should have let the zany, wacky final recount proceed, was any real harm done by their stepping in? We know from the Recount of the Recount of the Recount that Bush was the true winner in about three-quarters of the vote-validating scenarios. Bush would have been the winner in all political scenarios. Had Gore prevailed in the final midnight recount, there would have been two slates of electors from Florida (one for Gore chosen by the Florida court, one for Bush chosen by the Florida legislature) and either the United States Supreme Court would have had to sort it out anyway or the issue would have gone to Congress where the House (pro Bush) and Senate (pro Gore) would have split. That under the Electoral Count Act would have left the final decision to the governor of the state where the dispute arose -- namely, Jeb Bush.
Once he failed to win any of the first three tallies, Al Gore was fated to spend 2001 in Europe growing a beard; there just wasn't a scenario where he prevailed. Is it so bad that nine unaccountable old people in robes took the heat for ending this mess sooner rather than later? One shudders to think how bad vote-buying by both sides would have been, had the election been thrown into Congress.
By the way, the worst thing about the Florida recount follies was that they diverted attention from the fact that Gore won the popular vote. Bush was the true winner in electoral terms, but Gore was the choice of the people, which is what ought to matter. Had the election ended without the ridiculousness of the recounts, the focus would have been on revising the Electoral College to prevent the second-place finisher from ever coming out on top again.