WASHINGTON (Rooters agency) – The United States Supreme Court today ordered an immediate end to the recounting of votes in Afghanistan’s recent presidential election.
The recount had been arranged, following the mediation of the US Secretary of State, with the agreement of the two leading candidates, both of whom have claimed victory in the contested poll.
This US involvement was sufficient reason for the Court to rule on the case, the nine justices said unanimously, in the section of the ruling titled, “Who the hell do they think they are not to ask us?”.
However, the justices then divided on whether or not to end the recount.
The Afghanistan recount came before the Court as the result of a hostis populi brief submitted by the Friends of 2000 and Further Rollbacks, an organization composed of people who are corporations with annual revenues of $1 billion or more. The brief argued that the recount was invalid on two grounds: (1) that asking the opinion of Muslims about who should be their president violated the corporations’ freedom of religion by treating another religion as almost as good as Christianity; (2) that counting everyone’s votes and doing it accurately establishes precedents that undermine good government, the maintaining of which is the fundamental goal of the US Constitution.
In its decision, the Court majority dealt only with the second point. It noted that there is a well-established legal principle in US elections, colloquially known as “hands off or fingers off”. This meant that vote recounts should be allowed in only two situations: (1) when it was clear that they would not change the official outcome, or (2) changing the official result would not upset anyone very important.
This was the principle at the basis of the Court’s decision to end the recount in Florida following the 2000 US presidential election, as the majority stated explicitly in today’s ruling: “If they can have recounts in backwaters like Afghanistan, how can we justify preventing them here?”
“The Constitution guarantees the right to vote,”* the decision noted, “but it doesn’t say much about the right to have votes counted. The Afghan candidates may think that having the votes counted accurately is a good idea, but they do not have standing to amend the US Constitution.”
The dissenting opinion, signed by four Judges, was written by Justice Fluff. It argued against establishing a presumption against recounts, saying there could well be exceptional occasions when a recount was justified. It noted, as an example, that the Court has not yet ruled on the petition of the US Embassy in Caracas for a recount of last year’s presidential election in Venezuela, and worried that the current ruling might prejudice the Venezuelan case.
* Two of the Justices in the majority appended a disclaimer saying that they did not necessarily agree that the experiment of extending this right to descendants of former slaves and to females had proven successful.