June 21–28, 2001
The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President
By Vincent Bugliosi
Thunders Mouth Press, 166 p., $9.95
There were plenty of critics of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore, but only one really has the right credentials: Vincent Bugliosi, L.A.’s top courtroom prosecutor from the days when they won all the big cases. Bugliosi calls the majority criminals, and sets out to prove it in The Betrayal of America.
No, he admits, the justices who gave Bush the election didn’t break any statutory law. But, Bugliosi explains, "there are two types of crimes: malum prohibitum (wrong because they are prohibited) crimes… and malum in se (wrong in themselves) crimes." The latter he calls "the only true crimes" which "all involve morally reprehensible conduct."
The heart of the book goes after major flaws in the court’s actions and reasoning, building up circumstantial evidence of guilt while amplifications and endnotes rebut possible counter-arguments, provide added detail and make the sorts of supporting factual arguments about the law and the case which in other hands would be the whole show.
It’s a bit like a top Law and Order episode: change the assumptions about motivation and suddenly the bizarre, quixotic and contradictory make utterly perfect sense. Combine enough such examples, and no other explanation is possible. Proof that the court’s equal protection reasoning was fraudulent is easy: The court had already rejected this argument on Nov. 24. The Dec. 12 deadline was bogus as well. (In 1960 Hawaii certified its electors after New Year’s.) Again and again, Bugliosi hammers home the point that what’s otherwise strange, unprecedented and unfathomable makes perfect sense if one simply assumes that the majority plotted to give Bush the election, and then did whatever it took.
Has he made his case? Read it and you be the jury.