Friday, October 12, 2001
Bush v. Gore Ruling No Blow to High Court’s Prestige, Chemerinsky Tells Federal Bar Association
By a MetNews, Staff Writer
The Supreme Court’s ruling in Bush v. Gore, blocking a recount of the disputed presidential election returns in Florida and handing the presidency to George Bush, won’t have a longterm impact on the credibility and prestige of the high court, USC Professor Erwin Chemerinsky told a bar group yesterday.
The legitimacy of the Supreme Court, the professor told the Los Angeles chapter of the Federal Bar Association, “comes from all that it has done over the last 200 years.” While many in the country still dispute the decision, all recognize that George Bush is the lawfully elected president, he said, particularly in view of what has occurred in the past month.
“Even if 49 million people disagree with Bush v. Gore, it is lost from all of our consciousness,” he said. The ability of the country to get on about its business after the election dispute, he said, shows that “the Supreme Court’s moral legitimacy isn’t fragile, it’s robust.”
The decision’s long-lasting impact, he predicted, will be limited to election-law cases. Because all states except Oklahoma permit wide variances among local jurisdictions with respect to election practices, the professor said, it is likely the ruling will be used as the basis for suits arguing that intrastate variations constitute equal protection violations under a strict-scrutiny analysis.
Chemerinsky scoffed at the comment in the majority opinion that the circumstances surrounding the 2000 vote are unique, and ensuing suggestions that the decision will have little precedential impact as a result. “That’s not how stare decisis works,” he told the assembled lawyers and judges.
Chemerinsky, the Sydney M. Irmas Professor of Public Interest Law, Legal Ethics, and Political Science at USC, gave his assessment during the Supreme Court review that he gives each year to the FBA chapter.
The 2000 term of the high court, he said, was unusual in that Bush v. Gore was the court’s only “blockbuster” decision. Most recent terms, he said, have featured several important rulings, in areas such as federalism, civil rights, and police practices.
The 2001 term, he suggested, could feature “lots of blockbusters,” including the recently accepted case on school vouchers. But there are some issues the court is unlikely to touch, such as the propriety of using race as a factor in school admissions decisions, he said.
Chemerinsky’s address was preceded, as has become the chapter’s custom, by Bankruptcy Judge Barry Russell’s presentation of his annual awards to the outstanding students in federal practice at the five area law schools accredited by the American Bar Association.
This year’s winners, each of whom received a plaque, a check for $500, and a copy of Russell’s manual on bankruptcy evidence, were Aaron DeLeest of Southwestern University, Allison Hunt of Pepperdine University, Amy Tennelle Whitehust of UCLA, David Mike Azema of Loyola Law Schoo, and Katherine M. Forster of USC.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company