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OPINION: Courts not the last battleground; I sense positioning for continuing and objecting

by GHK Lall

In spite of waning interest, I still find myself pausing at elections developments, the latest of which in now vested in what comes out of the courts. It is the latest battleground but will not be the last. But as I look at the courts, a recollection comes to mind, and alongside that memory, there are these interpretations of mine relative to the political postures presented for domestic, and foreign, consumption. First that recollection when I was in another place.

It is of the year 2000 and Bush-Gore. As many would know, it came down to Florida, and from there we received an education in the rancorously partisan, the franchise denied (allegedly), the shenanigans employed, and that still intriguing matter about hanging chads. For me, what did stick was how men in gowns of supposedly, believed, impartial magistracy, threw—indeed, hurled—judicial precedent and judicial sagacity and individual integrity and legacy out the window. Judges appointed by Democratic powers stood for their one-time sponsors and called for Gore; it may be argued that they had some facts, circumstances, and precedents on which to rely. This was so ruled on and then reversed at higher levels where Republican appointed jurists held a numerical edge, with they, too, standing as judicial handmaidens from their own political annunciations. Both sides would hold steadfast to positions that reflected more fidelity to the politics that delivered them to the bench than fidelity to the sanctity of the law, which is forever bandied about in political peacetime.

Then, it was the turn of the august United States Supreme Court. From the decision to grant certiorari to the sharp deliberations to the peculiar decisions handed down, all of those glaring components spoke towards an undeniable something—considerations and judicial bias—that left many incredulous, aghast, and speechless. How could they do so, when this is so contrary to what was and is preached as necessary to be perfected, if only to save the Republic? That was my position, too, even though I had not voted. It was because everything that culminated in the minds and from the words of the US Supreme Court stood in stark counterpoint to the politics that got them elevated to the reward of the highest bench in the land. It contrasted with the judicial philosophy and visions espoused by the Republican Party. And it was diametrically opposed to the practices denounced and long cried out against by frustrated and disgusted conservatives, be they legal scholars, practitioners, or the ordinary layman.

For what came out of Bush-Gore in 2000 evidenced the flagrant hypocrisies that are manifested, even by those expected to be the noblest, when the prejudices of their own politics, and the expectations of those who championed their presence as tribunes are considered. The sanctity of State’s Rights, long heralded and argued for, fell by the wayside. And so, too, did all the controversies and disputes over judicial activism versus judicial restraint. To some degree, the same could be said about originalism. Republican judges saw it fit, with the vast import of the matter before them and the implications for the future duly considered, to go against all that they had said that they stood for and stood for immovably. It is a credit to Mr. Gore and his people that they bowed before the sullied majesty of the law; it is a testimony to the maturity of the American people that they moved ahead with living.

With that as backdrop, I now come to Guyana and our own issues about SoPs and who has the credible ones; about the roles and obligations of Returning Officers, and the responsibilities embedded in those, and the untouchable places of first Gecom and then the courts. In the coalition quarter the right things are being said in the right tones; it is of the highest regard for whatever comes out of first the courts and then Gecom. As to how much that will hold true remains to be determined and cannot be ascertained at this time. Almost simultaneously in this war for any advantage, the opposition has gone on public record to state that regardless of where and how the court lands, the process and count, with specific reference to Region 4, is fraudulent. That, by itself, is a whole mouthful. I digest that to mean that unless the favorable emerges, then that is what it is: fraudulent. And in that I detect enduring present dangers and future troubles.

Let this be remembered (and it is why I spent a while with the Bush-Gore holding): judges. Wherever they may be, do not operate in a vacuum; despite the grand words and infinitely majestic thoughts that grace some decisions, more than a few are usually a reflection of their circumstances, their relationships, their first loyalties. Sometimes the law is not the first. Maybe matters may move ahead differently here on this occasion.

While the Americans, party and people, moved on, we will not be able to do so to any satisfying degree. For both sides to the unbridgeable political and racial divide are positioning for objection and resistance beyond the courts and Gecom. Neither is the last battleground, since no one seems ready to yield any ground. On the coalition side, there is laying of the careful groundwork to continue; on that of the opposition it is readying to say that this cannot and will stand.

Mr GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.