This morning, a colleague and I were talking about our morning walk to the
Library. She had ventured to walk right in front of the Supreme Court,
while I took the path in front of the Capitol, with the Supreme Court at
I asked her to write what she had seen. Mary Lou Reker, the person behind
Today in History, obliged and the result is below. You are in for a treat!
This chilly morning I dropped my eleven year old at school then took
the metro to Union station on my way to work at the Library of
Congress. Over the outstretched arm of the woman next to me, I tried
to read the headlines of her Washington Post. The presidential
election comes before the Supreme Court at 11:00 am today, again.
"Judge Scalia has a relative working for Bush. Katie Couric said so,"
the woman tells me. Just over a week ago, I drove into work,
concerned I would not find parking because of the crowd of reporters,
media trucks, police, lawyers, and other assorted citizens in front of
the U.S. Supreme Court, Now I knew it would be the same scene again
but at least I'd be walking.
O.K. So I exit Union Station, cross a little park and head up First
Street to pass between the Capitol (on my right) and the Supreme
Court (on my left). I am thinking, did I get this right? Did the
Supreme Court of the United States, one week ago today, issue a
unanimous decision that in effect stated it was neither in favor nor
against the Florida State Supreme Court decision to recount certain
presidential ballots in certain Florida counties? Didn't the Supreme
Court of Florida decide in favor of recounts. Hasn't the U.S. Supreme
Court now halted these recounts?
"Which way to the Supreme Court?" a diminutive woman with bright
brown eyes asks me. "Up this street," I say and we walk along
together. "What do you think is going to happen?" she asks me. I
reiterate my mental chronology of events out loud - performing a
reality check of sorts - not really answering the question. " What do
_you think is going to happen?" I ask her. "I think Bush wants to win
no matter what it takes. No matter what." We pause at a stop light.
I see what could be 80 or 100 photographers with their cameras arrayed
on tripods off to my right on the edge of the Capitol grounds. The
woman mentions "corruption." I wonder how many votes are lost every
election by loose counting practices, fuzzy logic, or zippers.
Testing her sanity, I ask if she hopes to get a seat in court to hear
the arguments being presented. "No. No," she says. After judging her
sane I was curious. "What brings you here then?" "I just want to see
what's going on. I work for the AFL-CIO." The unions are pro-Gore,"
I say. "Most, but not all," she smiled and drifted into the portion
of the crowd carrying banners.
I see about 250 or so people standing on the Supreme Court grounds,
mainly of TV crews, Capitol Hill police, and folks carrying signs. I
see both pro-Gore and pro-Bush placards. I swing around for just a
moment to get the full view of the scene. No one has been allowed to
go up the Supreme Court steps except the police. So everyone is
standing close to the street. It is comfortable, not at all scary,
walking through the animated crowd.
I see crewman setting up hot coffee and a dozen or more bagged
lunches (breakfasts? snacks?) for a television crew. I see a weather
worn technical assistant in a new black leather jacket talking
animatedly into a very small cell phone. I see lots of trucks
microwave dishes and a number of on-camera reporters in front of
cameramen primping and looking well dressed - a man in a camel coat, a
woman in a navy blue coat with beautiful black leather gloves.
"Those folks are from CBS," another pedestrian says to me.
We step into the crosswalk together. "I can't follow it all. It is
very hard to follow," she says. "But it's very exciting," I say.
"Just count the votes," she responds. "It would be ironic if Bush
halts the recount but would have won the recount," I venture. " What
is going on here?" she says as we pull open the huge brass doors of
the Library of Congress and walk into its warmth.
Mary Lou Reker
Dec. 11, 2000