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Supreme Injustice

Alan M. Dershowitz

Supreme Injustice

Author:Alan M. Dershowitz
Publisher:Oxford University Press

By Van Smith | Posted 9/5/2001

Political cynics, it's time to indulge in a potent human pleasure--that of shouting aloud, "I told you so!" With the release of Alan Dershowitz's Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000, the last remaining object of popular political idealism--the U.S. Supreme Court--has been exposed as nothing more than a body of hack lawyers who will, like most politicians, abuse their extraordinary power for personal and partisan gain. For judges, this is a criminal violation--one that in this case will go unpunished because Supreme Court justices answer to no one.

The first part of Supreme Injustice is written in dense legalese, but it makes the crucial point that the five justices who handed George W. Bush the keys to the White House did so by insupportable, precedent-bending legal contortions involving the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. The juicy red meat of the book, though, is its many pages devoted to the methodical deconstruction of how each of the majority justices who decided Bush v. Gore abandoned long and strongly held legal principles, and apparently did so out of patent self-interest--whether it be a general sense of Republican political loyalty or blatant careerism. Thus, as Dershowitz delicately puts it, the case "raises a compelling inference of impropriety." In other words, the majority justices--O'Connor, Kennedy, Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas--violated their oath of office.

Dershowitz, a first-rate lawyer and pundit, proves his point beyond a reasonable doubt. The question is, what to do about it? He suggests tinkering with the way we choose our justices by putting a premium on something he calls "greatness." That's a peach of an idea, but first let's impeach the no-good bastards.

The notion of raising the impeachment flag over Bush v. Gore comes from Vincent Bugliosi, who first gained national prominence as the prosecutor of the Manson family and recently published his own well-reasoned treatise, The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined Our Constitution and Chose Our President (Thunder's Mouth). During a conversation with City Paper, Bugliosi acknowledged that impeachment won't happen, but he still believes "any such movement [toward it] would have enormous sociological impact. If there's nothing done at all to stain [the justices'] legacy, there is no deterrent" for similar felonious behavior on their part in the future.

Thus, the only flaw in Supreme Injustice is its soft-on-crime overtones. This is predictable coming from Dershowitz, who helped mastermind the O.J. Simpson defense and has made a career of getting unpopular defendants off the hook. The "felonious five" (as Bugliosi has dubbed the majority justices), on the other hand, are hard-ass conservatives who believe in throwing the book at criminals. They should be forced to take their own medicine--or at least be threatened with it in the court of public opinion.

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