Statement by Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata and Matteo Angioli, respectively President and Secretary General of the Global Committee for the Rule of Law “Marco Pannella”, on the US elections and the victory of Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President.
With the election of Joe Biden as 46th President of the United States, an election riddled with risks connected to the pandemic, foreign interference and many other known and unknown hurdles, ends showing once again the vitality and strength of the set great liberal democratic values that have been governing America for 233 years. A country afflicted by growing tensions with a dangerously divided population has stood up to the challenge using the main tool available to citizens: the exercise of the right to vote. It is not so much the result as the unprecedented turnout in this election to show that American democracy has not plunged into an irreversible crisis.
As for the results, the change decided by the majority of voters and the 50 States that make up the federation is clear and it confirms that the principle “non sub homine sed sub lege” continues to shape and put substance in the United States in a significant way. If, as Marco Pannella often recalled, shape is also substance, upholding the rule of law will be essential in the weeks and months of the transition period, from election day until 20 January 2021 when President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will officially swear in.
Indeed, the principle that no one is above the law will be even more decisive if the legal challenges announced by Donald Trump reach the Supreme Court. We must have confidence in the country’s highest constitutional authority entitled to speak out, as is it has already ruled over intricate cases in the past. For over two centuries, elections in America have spurred heated debates, speculations and legal challenges. The latter have always been settled by laws grounded on one of the pillars of the rule of law, namely the separation of powers, and by independent bodies, starting with the very Supreme Court.
Federal judges represent and express the founding values of the Constitution: this is true for the current Supreme Court as well, which is made up mostly of conservative members. All judges, including “originalists” such as Antonin Scalia, or “progressives” such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, have responsibly held up these values and principles as a guarantee of a just and fair application of the electoral law. It will not be Trump nor Biden to interpret State laws on electoral matters, to stop or not the count, to declare a vote valid or not. It will be the democratic, federalist, secular rule book.
Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata