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Impeach the Supremes | The Nation

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Impeach the Supremes

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Some people just don't believe in getting over it.

About the Author

David Sarasohn
David Sarasohn is associate editor of The Oregonian in Portland.

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In June, Charles Porter, 82--who left the House of Representatives just as George W. Bush was entering prep school--proposed a resolution to the Oregon Democratic Party calling for the impeachment of the five Supreme Court Justices who awarded the White House to Bush. The party wouldn't go quite that far. But it did officially resolve: "The Democratic Party of Oregon supports the immediate investigation of the behavior of the US Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, for decisions in December that led to Americans being denied their right to choose a President of the United States."

The Oregonians, the first (and so far only) state party to make such a statement, then bannered the resolution on their website (www.dpo.org). "I've got to tell you, I'm surprised," says Oregon state Democratic chairman Jim Edmunson. "There's been a large amount of interest. We've had e-mail, letters, contributions from people all over the country. It's like the movie Network: 'I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore.'" The Oregon Democrats' website now includes hundreds of letters seconding their resolution, people writing "thank God some Democrats found some cojones" and, of course, "I refuse to get over it."

Paul Behrenndt, Democratic chairman of neighboring Washington, has sent the resolution around to other states. The Democratic committee of Ocean County, New Jersey, has posted the resolution on its website, as has Democrats.com, an organization of 25,000 party activists.

Where there hasn't been a response, concedes Edmunson, has been from any member of Congress. "The silence is deafening," he says. "The only people who haven't responded are the people who could do something about it." Edmunson's own Democratic Congressman, Peter DeFazio, former chairman of the House Progressive Caucus, sympathizes with the resolution but isn't about to go leaping to his feet in the House. "The Supreme Court is political. It's not a long stretch to see that they made a political decision. There are a number of right-wing political hacks who have been named to the Court, and they made a bad decision," says DeFazio. But, he says, "I can assure you that [House Speaker] Dennis Hastert, who won't even consider my proposal for a bipartisan commission to consider election reform, is not about to sanction a resolution to investigate the Supreme Court."

One prominent figure in the 2000 election--the one who finished third--also has doubts about an investigation. "They wouldn't be able to get across the separation of powers," says Ralph Nader. "The Court is not going to address subpoenas."

Still, even if it's unlikely that George W. Bush's White House will be repossessed, there are indications--for example, the attention paid to recent books on the Court's action by Vincent Bugliosi (based on an article in The Nation) and Alan Dershowitz, and an article in the Yale Law Journal--that the election that wouldn't end might still be alive in 2002, and even 2004. Stirring up the troops, instead of setting off a constitutional crisis, seems to be about what Edmunson expects. "This was just a glorious middle finger in the wind," says Edmunson. "The best thing you can do with your middle finger sometimes is poke someone in the eye with it."

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