Speeches

Chief Justice Moyer
Electoral College
December 18, 2000

Governor Taft, Secretary Blackwell, Speaker Davidson, President Finan, honored participants, presidential electors, fellow Ohioans.

We meet in this place pursuant to a plan for the election of the President of the United States devised by the drafters of the United States Constitution over two hundred years ago.

Such meetings are legally indispensable but often perfunctory. Today, it is a momentous occasion, made so not by the election laws and standards adopted in Ohio but by actions of those outside our control.

Our nation has traveled an unmarked path. At times it seemed to some that the journey would never end.

It was a cynic's dream; but it was not a crisis.

It was democracy in its unglamorous splendor.

The experience of the last 36 days taught us something about our democracy, renewed our belief in and reliance upon our institutions and most important, revealed the profound strength of the American character.

No one could have wanted the uncertainty; no one could have predicted America's patience.

No one could wish that the leader of the executive branch would be determined by decisions of the judicial branch.

In another time and in many other places the doubt we have experienced would have dissipated with the presence of military force or violent rebellion.

But in American we live by a different standard; we live by the rule of law; the American spirit says the peaceful process by which a leader is selected supersedes all concern for the identity of the leader.

All of our institutions embody our belief in that principal and our trust in each other.

And it is that trust in our institutions that enables us to tolerate the inefficiencies of a democracy and accept the decisions of those who serve its institutions.

When he who concedes unequivocally accepts a court decision with which he disagrees; when the acceptor of the concession seeks conciliation and prayers for the loser they demonstrate the American character.

It is appropriate today to remember that 200 years ago, in the election of 1800, the tie in the Electoral College required Congress to select the third President of the United States.

The winner, Thomas Jefferson, wrote shortly after the election in a letter titled "The Reconciliation of Reform" "the steady character of our countrymen is a rock to which we may safely moor."

As in the past America has sailed through rough waters in the first year of a new century.

And as in the past, the steady character of our countrymen is a rock to which we are safely moored.