Friday, September 01, 2006

The biggest story you never heard

I should be used to news reports about the gutting of the democratic process in the US by now, but somehow I still find it shocking that the mainstream media just doesn't care.

Back in June, the Republican candidate for California’s 50th Congressional District, Brian Bilbray, slightly out-polled Democrat Francine Busby. The election was under a cloud of irregularities, such as precints where there were more absentee ballots than registered voters.

Despite the obvious opportunities for fraud, and significant evidence that fraud actually did take place, Bilbray was sworn in as a member of the United States House of Representatives. It wasn't until more than two weeks later that the Registrar of San Diego County officially certified the electoral results. Amazingly enough, more than fifty percent of the votes had not been assigned to the correct precinct (PDF).

The next day, the result was contested, on the grounds that there was affirmative evidence of irregular results (i.e. clear and obvious signs of fraud and cheating, like all those unregistered absentee ballots that were counted).

What happened next is surreal. San Diego Superior Court Judge Yuri Hofmann threw away any pretence of democratic principles by ruling that, once Bilbray was sworn in, the actual votes he may or may not have received become irrelevent.

Let me say that again: once the Speaker of the House of Representatives swears somebody in as a Member, it doesn't matter one whit whether he was duly elected or not. The judge declared that "Once the House asserts exclusive jurisdiction and selects a candidate, the court no longer has jurisdiction", and that the swearing in alone was sufficient to establish Bilbray’s election.

This ruling, if allowed to stand, effectively gives carte blanche to the Speaker of the House to appoint anyone he chooses, for any reason. The American House of Representatives is no longer the People's House, it is now the Speaker's House.

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