Election 2020: The consequences for the courts

Unlike committed partisans on both sides of America's political divide, I have no fixed belief about which of the two major party candidates actually won our recently concluded presidential election.

Two things that I do know are that:

1. Significant and obviously plausible questions have been put forth about the announced results, the manner in which the election was conducted in certain key states, and how the votes were counted in those states.

2. Our courts, on technical and procedural grounds, have refused each and every one of a great many efforts to have the above-mentioned questions resolved through an established legal process. 

The desire of judges to avoid jeopardizing the prestige, standing, and stability of the courts as an institution by avoiding involvement in the ugly political mud brawl is understandable.  However, the inevitable consequences of their insistence on remaining above the fray will do the opposite of safeguarding the Judiciary, the nation's institutions, and a peaceable civil society. 

The courts and common law of England — the forerunner and basis for our judicial system — were established and developed to provide a peaceful way for aggrieved individuals to obtain justice without resorting to violence.  Now, as a result of the refusal of the courts to objectively and transparently examine and adjudicate the disputes about the election and its outcome, roughly half the country is being left enraged without any legal way to have the issues adjudicated.  Thus, a large number of Americans are in the same position as were Englishmen when violence was the only means for resolving strongly held grievances prior to the establishment of a legal system.

That, I submit, does not bode well for the country.

Furthermore, the resulting perilous situation will exist in a nation that has become incapable of conducting an efficient and transparently honest election and in which the term "Election Day" no longer has any meaning.  We now have election and vote-counting seasons in which anything is possible with outcomes determined not by voters or the votes they cast, but by those in control of the process. 

In that situation, we may never again have an honest election.  We certainly will never have one accepted as such.

Retired after more than 50 years of practicing law, Peter Taussig is an Eagle Scout and a veteran U.S. military officer who in his early years also worked as a newspaper reporter and editor.

Image: Pixabay.

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