Train Wreck

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 16, 2009 | Go to article overview

Train Wreck


Byline: Greg Pierce, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Train wreck

You would think people would learn. The recount in the contest between Norm Coleman and Al Franken for a seat in the U.S. Senate isn't just embarrassing. It is unconstitutional, Michael Stokes Paulsen writes in the Wall Street Journal.

"This is Florida 2000 all over again, but with colder weather. Like that fiasco, Minnesota's muck of a process violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Indeed, the controlling Supreme Court decision is none other than Bush v. Gore. ...

Minnesota is Bush v Gore reloaded. The details differ, but not in terms of arbitrariness, lack of uniform standards, inconsistency in how local recounts were conducted and counted, and strange state court decisions, said Mr. Paulsen, professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis and formerly associate dean of the University of Minnesota Law School.

Consider the inconsistencies: One county 'found' 100 new votes for Mr. Franken, due to an asserted clerical error. Decision? Add them. Ramsey County (St. Paul) ended up with 177 more votes than were recorded election day. Decision? Count them. Hennepin County (Minneapolis, where I voted - once, to my knowledge) came up with 133 fewer votes than were recorded by the machines. Decision? Go with the machines' tally. All told, the recount in 25 precincts ended up producing more votes than voters who signed in that day.

As matters stand now, Mr. Paulsen said, the Minnesota recount is a legal train wreck. The result, a narrow Franken lead, is plainly invalid. Just as in Bush v. Gore, the recount has involved 'unequal evaluation of ballots in several respect' and failed to provide 'minimal procedural safeguards' of equal treatment of all ballots. Legally, it does not matter which candidate benefited from all these differences in treatment. (Mr. Franken did.) The different treatment makes the results not only unreliable (and suspicious), but unconstitutional.

No partisans

On the night before Barack Obama is sworn in as the nation's 44th president, his inaugural committee will host a series of dinners honoring public servants it deems champions of bipartisanship. To be feted are Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Colin Powell, and John McCain, whom Obama vanquished last November, Kevin Drum writes in a blog at www.motherjones.com.

"At the McCain dinner, the GOP senator, who managed to suppress his bipartisan tendencies during the hard-fought 2008 campaign, will be introduced by one of his closest Senate confidants: Sen. Lindsey Graham. But McCain's No. 1 booster during the last year will not be among those hailing McCain. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, his controversial running-mate, will not attend the dinner, Bill McAllister, a Palin spokesman, tells Mother Jones. ...

"According to McAllister, Palin will spend next week in her home state preparing for the legislative session, which begins on Tuesday, and for her

State of the State address on Thursday

"Was she even invited? 'I don't know if she was invited,' McAllister says. Don't know? How could that be? It's hard to miss an invitation from a presidential inauguration committee. For its part, Obama's inaugural committee has declined to say whether an invitation was sent to Palin. Repeated phone calls to its press office produced no answer to this simple question.

The committee has announced that the McCain dinner will be held at the Hilton Washington and that Democratic Massachusetts Gov. …

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