Bush v Gore Remembered

Posted December 2013 in Civil Rights by Sharon Lopez

Thirteen years ago today (12/11/2000)  Andrea Farney and I were in Washington D.C. for a work related meeting when we both worked at the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV).  We were in a fourth floor meeting room off of DuPont Circle and the meeting was about child protective services (CPS) and domestic violence (DV).  Andrea made me come to the meeting so I could present the "con" side of the argument on whether there should be collaboration between the DV movement and CPS.  As you all know, this was the year the presidential election was not decided because of hanging chads left on Florida ballots.  The hanging chad dilemma resulted in a demand for a recount and the extent and need for the recount was appealed in court.  The matter went quickly to the United States Supreme Court.  Oral argument was set for 12/11/2000 and I was in DC to argue about a counter point of an argument that was theoretical and non-binding on DV service providers.  I was so frustrated!  I wanted to get to the Supreme Court and see if I could listen to this historic argument.  The meeting took forever to get started, but before we commenced I declared my intention.  "No matter what, I am taking a 30 minute break at lunch and going to the Supreme Court to hear Bush v. Gore argued!"  For a split second the room was quiet and then everyone agreed we should take a lunch field trip to the Court instead of ordering our usual sandwiches and continuing with a "working" lunch.  We piled into taxis and made our way across town.  We could not get too close though because the crowds were everywhere! People were carrying signs, chanting, singing and I even saw a donkey or two.  I pinched myself so I could remember the moment.  I was alone in the crowd but I felt so connected to everyone.  I opened my flip phone (no smart phone then) and called my husband at the time.  All I remember saying is "I feel like I'm in a Frank Capra movie!" e.g., "Mr. Smith goes to Washington."  I held the phone up in the air and told him to listen to the crowd.  It was amazing!  Of course I could not get in to listen to the argument because the room was full, but I knew a place I could always enter and feel success...the gift shop!  I ran in and grabbed some leather bookmarks and some books.  I signed the books and had my PCADV colleagues at the meeting sign them as well.  I saved the bookmarks and gave them to my children.  I've attended many Supreme Court oral arguments since then but none were as exciting on the outside as this one.  Of course the next day the Supreme Court issued an opinion I and 50% of the country (depending on the statistics you looked at) did not like, but even more importantly the country did not revolt.  There was no violence or revolution.  We are a democracy and a government based on laws and the people accepted the Supreme Court's interpretation of the law.  I always think of that fact on this day...We are a country of laws.  On this day I am so proud to be an American because instead of civil war we made this decision based on binding principles and lofty theories that we decided we would live by as a nation!

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