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George W. Bush and Al Gore
President-elect George W. Bush meets with Vice President Al Gore on Dec. 19, 2000, at Gore's official residence in Washington. (AP file photo)

Capitol Retort: No exception; heart of democracy; COVID clunker

Question 1: We don’t yet know the election outcomes as these interviews were conducted Oct. 30. So let’s talk about Thursday’s blockbuster U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which effectively killed off a week-long deadline extension for mailed ballot arrivals postmarked by Election Day. The Constitution has no pandemic exception, the judges wrote. What did you make of their ruling?

Scott Dibble, DFL state senator: This is clearly an effort by Republican courts and Republican legislators to exclude voters’ votes and steal the election, because they know they cannot win on their terrible ideas and failed leadership.

Greg Davids, former GOP House Taxes Committee chair: I think it was the correct ruling. I look to the Constitution too, and I have seen no pandemic issues there. They got this one spot on. There could have been some tomfoolery, chicanery and shenanigans going on in the elections with seven days to count. I think it was the correct ruling and if it goes to the U.S. Supreme Court, I hope that they will rule as they did in Wisconsin that no, you can’t be doing that. It’s a very good ruling. It actually restores a bit of integrity. We’ve had a lot of hits on our voting system this last year and I think it just really gives some credibility to our election.

Brian McDaniel, attorney, conservative lobbyist: I think it the appropriate ruling. I think that we have made it more than easy enough to vote, either in person, by mail, or by in-person early voting. I believe that early voting started in September. So the last thing any of us need is for this election could go any longer than it has to. So I support the 8th Circuit. I think that they made the right ruling and that the extension was inappropriate and not run through the Legislature properly.

Kim Hunter, immigration attorney: [Laughs.] I mean, the Republican takeover of the courts is nearly complete, right? [U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett] Kavanaugh and the other conservatives clearly telegraphed that they are willing to supplant the role of state Supreme Courts with their opinions on federal elections. And the 8th Circuit is falling into line. It’s hardly surprising, unfortunately.

[Editor’s note: Kavanaugh’s concurrence in Democratic National Committee v. Wisconsin Legislature raised some eyebrows with its assertions that state legislatures have almost limitless and absolute power to establish the time and manner of presidential and congressional elections, with only Congress functioning as a check. The 8th Circuit cited Kavanaugh’s concurrence in its opinion.]

Question 2: By this edition’s publication date, we might know more about the kinds of legal imbroglios we’re in store for after the 2020 election. So let’s cast a glance little beyond the moment and ask this: How strong is this country’s heart, should it have to withstand a long legal fight over the presidency, a la Bush v. Gore?

Dibble: The country should not be subjected to a court-selected president, as we did in the case of George Bush. The only remedy is for massive voter turnout in favor of the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates who actually cherish the sanctity of elections and everyone’s vote.

Davids: Donald Trump is going to win so convincingly that it won’t be an issue, especially in Minnesota.

McDaniel: I think that any legal battle—whether it’s coming from the Republicans or the Democrats—will serve to delegitimize the final result with the non-prevailing party. So I believe it will be extraordinarily damaging to our Republic and national character. Therefore, I suggest everybody get your votes in early, go vote on Election Day and let’s get this over within the proper allotted times.

Hunter: Probably about was well as they’re prepared to withstand COVID.

Question 3: Major League Baseball probably dodged a bullet when the World Series ended just one inning after Dodger Justin Turner was removed from Game 6 after inconclusive COVID test results reported to the league during the second inning proved positive by the eighth. Yet he was seen celebrating mask-less with the team after that. What do you think of MLB’s coronavirus clunker?

Dibble: It just makes my brain hurt to see such blatant idiocy and stupidity and complete disregard for care for other people.

Davids: I think that we know when [COVID-19] goes away—it will go away the day after the election. Then we’ll be done.

McDaniel: You can only blame MLB so much for that. I think, all in all, they started off with a weak [COVID-19] plan that, through trial and error, became a successful one. I believe that the blame for Justin Turner’s actions falls clearly squarely with Justin Turner. I understand he was celebrating the win of a lifetime, but he did so at the expense of his friends, teammates and other co-workers.

Hunter: I mean, my jaw is on the ground. And it takes a lot to get it there these days. I walk around with my mouth agape most days, but to get my jaw on the floor takes effort.


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