Supreme Court is condemned for 'theft of presidency'

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Just as George Bush is hitting the first seriously heavy weather of his presidency, two of America's most prominent lawyers have published books pushing to unprecedented heights criticism of the Supreme Court decision that awarded him victory in November's election.

In separately published tracts, Alan Dershowitz and Vincent Bugliosi characterise the five justices who sided with the Republican candidate in the nail-biting case of Bush v Gore as partisan, demonstrably corrupt, criminal and treasonous.

Mr Dershowitz argues in Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Highjacked Election 2000: "The decision may be ranked as the single most corrupt decision in Supreme Court history, because it is the only one that I know of where the majority of justices decided as they did because of the personal identity and political affiliation of the litigants."

Mr Bugliosi, best known for prosecuting the Charles Manson gang and writing about it in the bestseller Helter Skelter, goes even further in The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President. "The stark reality ... is that the institution Americans trust the most to protect its freedoms and principles committed one of the biggest and most serious crimes this nation has seen – the theft of the presidency.."

What makes the two new books different is the detail of their arguments and the legal expertise of their authors.

Singled out for criticism is Justice Scalia, who had repeatedly expressed scepticism over equal protection issues and insisted on the importance of precedents and "unbroken national traditions". Mr Dershowitz says: "In joining the majority ... Antonin Scalia violated every one of these salutary principles to enable him to vote his political preferences."

It is not clear what long-term damage will be caused by the Bush v Gore ruling, which has prompted some misgivings across the legal spectrum. There are indications, however, that Mr Scalia's ambitions to become Chief Justice when the current incumbent, William Rehnquist, retires may have been dented.