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Nader and the Florida Court


Much as I hate to admit it, I think the Florida Supreme Court was correct in its 6-1 ruling to allow Ralph Nader on the ballot. When laws are ambiguous, it seems reasonable to interpret them in ways that increase access to the ballot.

What should be emphasized here is that the FSC, which was savagely attacked as a kangaroo court by legions of Bush partisans, has in fact been very consistent and principled in its decisions on Florida’s electoral statutes. A majority of its justices have consistently interpreted ambiguous statutes broadly, to favor voters’s rights. As Howard Gillman demonstrated, of the 5 major decisions of the FSC in the aftermath of the 2000 election 3 favored Bush, all using the same basic legal reasoning. It’s now 4 out of 6. The Court’s critics–up to and including a majority the United States Supreme Court–on the other hand, are transparently unprincipled hacks. When it came to voting deadlines, the court should be strict constructionists. When it comes to military absentee ballots, on the other hand, it would be appalling–treasonous, even–to throw out votes on “legal technicalities.” While it’s possible to disagree with the Court’s standard, people who argue that this standard is just results-oriented opportunism are straightforward liars and hypocrites.

So while this outcome is unfortunate, the court was right. Let’s put the blame where it belongs. As Josh Marshall pointed out just before the inevitable occurred:

Certainly, this latter-day political narcissist has already made up his mind what he’s going to announce. So there’s no point waiting to call him what he is: an enemy of progressive change in this country and a cat’s paw of the Republican party.
If anything, calling him a ‘cat’s paw’ is too generous since a dupe at least doesn’t know he’s being used…

A reader notes that since Nader now isn’t even running as a Green, he has apparently abandoned even the pretense that he is in the race to create a viable third party in American politics. If he runs, it would now be strictly on a platform of vacuous moral posturing and self-aggrandizement.

I remember being told that this year, Nader would really just be trying to beat Bush. When it comes to being suckers, working-class Kansans have nothing on Naderites…

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