As I write this on Thursday night, little more than a week after the Nov. 3rd Election, events have transpired exactly as I predicted this past Spring.
I said back then the Presidential Election would most likely be decided (undecided?) by a razor-thin margin.
The closeness of the vote would then lead to weeks, perhaps months, of litigation by Democratic and Republican lawyers.
And that’s exactly where we find ourselves.
So relax, remember the advice I always give people: Take your politics seriously, but not personally — as far too many people do.
Back in 2000 in the Gore V. Bush dust-up, Al Gore’s campaign was counting and recounting ballots for a month after Election Day. Donald Trump is well on the path to replicating that 20-year-old experience. We’ve seen it before, so no need to get upset, hostile, or paranoid about it.
Over the last four years, you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone who didn't have very definite, strong love-hate feelings about President Donald Trump.
Of course, love-hate relationships lead to further polarization and our country’s rapidly accelerating inability to talk civilly with people with whom we disagree on politics.
But at least one good thing came out of this dichotomy of vitriol, the 2020 election will have a turnout of at least 61% of eligible voters — the highest since 1960, when 63.8% of eligible voters turned out to choose John F. Kennedy over Richard Nixon.
Quite a few people have told me they fear the Supreme Court will intervene in the election and declare Trump the winner. I tell them don’t expect the Supreme Court, even with three Trump-appointed Justices on it, to bail out the lame duck President.
The Court isn’t going to deep-six the election results. The ballot counts aren’t close enough for any of Trump’s litigation plans to prove successful. Trump’s charges of widespread voting fraud, whether mail-in ballots postmarked before election night but not actually received until after that day can be counted, etc., are specious arguments at best that will be disposed of once each state certifies their results. The U.S. Constitution defers to state legislatures complete authority to set voting procedures, including finalizing official results, so the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction to get involved in the matter.
Trump’s other main argument(s) is he wants state officials and/or the courts to stop the counting of votes in some states while demanding that vote counting continue in other states! Good luck with that conflicting legal strategy.
A probable litmus test regarding Supreme Court thinking on jurisdictional matters is quite a few folks were convinced prior to this week’s hearing they would overturn the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
The Trump administration and several Republican-controlled states are asking the Court to strike down the law, a decade after it was passed. This marks the third time the Court has entertained a challenge to Obamacare (previous two cases Obamacare found constitutional), though this time it’s occurring in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic where 230,000-plus deaths have occurred and millions of Americans are left jobless. It appeared from both comments made and questions asked by the Black Robes at the hearing, that a solid majority of the Court believed it wasn't the Supreme Court's role to invalidate Obamacare.
"I think it's hard for you to argue that Congress intended the entire act to fall if the mandate was struck down when the same Congress that lowered the penalty to zero did not even try to repeal the rest of the act," Chief Justice John Roberts, a Trump appointee, told the attorney representing Texas, one of the states fighting the law.
"I think, frankly, that they (Congress) wanted the court to do that, but that's not our job," Roberts added.
“Not our job” translates to “we don’t have the jurisdiction” to do what you want us to do.
I believe the same legal thinking applies to Trump’s election results monkey business.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)