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Governing By Consent - Of Five Judges

December 15, 2000

This is the text of a letter published in The Age today from former Loreto Mandeville Hall student, Fiona Hammond. Fiona is a graduate in Arts/Law from the University of Melbourne:

Fiona Hammond

The US Declaration of Independence states that 'Governments ... derive their just powers from the consent of the governed'. The consent that George W Bush has obtained is that of five judges of the US Supreme Court. Their verdict on the Florida recount means that no one will ever know for sure if Bush also obtained the consent of the people.

A court ruling ordering a new recount would have delivered certainty, and legitimacy, to the presidential election result. Both the candidates and the American people would have benefited from this outcome.

Regardless of the result of the recount, the fact that it was undertaken at all would have prevented the feelings of disenfranchisement experienced by some voters. If, after this recount, Bush had retained his lead, the thoroughness of the process which lead to this result would have enabled him to claim some form of legitimate mandate to govern. It would also have served to quieten the allegations of electoral fraud surrounding the Florida outcome. A new recount would have provided a definitive election result, relieving Al Gore and indeed the world from eternally wondering, 'What if?'

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