Back at the end of September, I predicted that if the outcome of the election was such that the Supreme Court was called on to weigh in, they wouldn’t intervene. They’d leave it to the states. I implied there might be two justices who’d back a coup for Trump, but the other seven had no interest in such things. Well, then Amy Coney Barrett got on the court, so maybe three justices would do something crazy. But in the first draft of this column last week, I correctly guessed that the court would shut down the Texas lawsuit.
It’s not at all comparable to the 2000 Florida case, in which the court just let Florida finish its certification process as it was going to. It amounted to saying “carry on.” An equivalent decision now would be leaving Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin results where they are, as each state is done counting and voting for Biden as their winner.
The case against Pennsylvania was the strangest. How did the Texas attorney general think the Supreme Court would rule against Pennsylvania when they already struck down an almost identical lawsuit Dec. 8? Did he think they wouldn’t remember their last recent decision on the matter? Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is no Bugs Bunny, and Chief Justice John Roberts is no Elmer Fudd.
In local court news, Mayor Jenny Durkan won’t have to endure a recall election. The state Supreme Court says so. I was surprised. I’ve always been under the impression that the way it worked was a recall petition gets enough signatures
and there’s a recall vote. Ha! That was so wrong. My Dunning-Kruger bias is showing. The court said they had some little precedent or other.
If there had to be a recall vote, I think I’d have died of tedium, especially if Durkan lost. Another round of finding an interim mayor, having them decide they don’t want to be mayor, then having to put out a call for mayor wannabes to go to the trouble of mayoring until next fall. Oh, bother.
Why do we even have mayors, anyway? We were going to recall this one for not getting the Seattle Police Department to stop tear-gassing residents. After recalling her, we’d be lacking a mayor, and the same thing that she didn’t do would still not be done by the empty chair.
We need to all take deep breaths and think about what we’ll be doing for the next mayor’s election.
My all-time favorite Seattle mayoral election was the 1997 race between Paul Schell and Charlie Chong. I was so not interested in either of them that I offered myself up as a hopeless write-in candidate. My platform promised beer and pizza for all. I was homeless at the time and figured I could put the mayor’s office to good use. Schell had a chateau in France, so he didn’t need the office space. I don’t know what Chong had, but the one time I saw him in person he didn’t look homeless to me. I could have been wrong. We’ve sure seen that happen.
Schell, the one with the chateau, was the one elected. Instead of having to deal with Black Lives Matter or a declared Autonomous Zone, Schell had to deal with the World Trade Organization protests at the end of November 1999, lasting three days. He also didn’t stop the police from using tear gas. Instead, he actually did a thing. The thing he did was declare 50 blocks around the site of the WTO conference off-limits to free speech. Which made protesters angry, for some reason.
It may be my Dunning-Kruger showing again, but I believe that was the first No Free Speech Zone of such magnitude ever in the country. It set a little precedent. Since then, any time a city doesn’t like protests going on, they establish giant No Free Speech Zones and tell protesters to stay outside them and no one will get their heads busted.
I got to meet with Schell personally before he had to leave office. I was ostensibly there to interview him on his proposal to house homeless people on a barge in Elliott Bay, but I asked him why he thought it was a good idea to kick the First Amendment so far down the road in 1999.
He turned red and purple at the same time. Not tedious at all.
Read more in the Dec. 16-22, 2020 issue.