- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2000

Zach Hines and Jonathan Stocking ditched their first-period civics class and hit the highway yesterday morning, bound for Washington and the U.S. Supreme Court, where they joined thousands in a demonstration over the disputed Florida ballot count.
With parental permission, the two friends, seniors at Hedgesville High School near Martinsburg, W.Va., gleefully set off on an early morning road trip to get a first-person glimpse at history and a lesson on democracy to boot.
Outside the court, the Democratic duo raised matching homemade signs that drew giggles and smiles from many of those gathered around the high court. "We Should be in School Now," their signs said. "Look What You've Reduced Us To."
"We wanted to get down to ground zero," said Jon, 18, who was bundled up against the cold but enjoying his moment of teen-age activism.
"I wish I would not have voted for Gore," said Zach, also 18 and sporting a neon orange streak in his dark brown hair. "I think he should have given up and waited four more years to run again."
Yesterday's protest marked the second at the court in two weeks and drew nearly as large a crowd. Once again, Gore supporters outnumbered those of Texas Gov. George W. Bush, but each side was equally spirited as they sang, chanted and screamed such buzz phrases as "Count the Ballots" or "President Bush."
"Give up your entitlements and earn money," urged Bush supporter Sue Clark, who helped a fellow demonstrator hawk $10 "Sore-Loserman 2000" T-shirts by advertising them loudly through a bullhorn in a proud nod to capitalism.
"These thugs are trying to take over," said the 58-year-old resident of Santa Monica, Calif., gesturing at throngs of Gore supporters nearby. "I'm here because I don't want government in every aspect of our lives."
Nearby, Gore fan and Southeast Washington resident Weldon Thomas, 45, squared off with "Soccer Mom for Bush" Susan Ross of Fairfax Station. Their exchange was tense at times, but peaceful.
"I was not an activist, but I am now," said Mrs. Ross, a Republican mother of four who has protested twice at the Supreme Court and also at Mr. Gore's official residence at the Naval Observatory.
"I think the Supreme Court in Florida made a wise decision," said Mr. Thomas, a minister in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and father of two sons. He thinks the state should count all its votes.
"It's the only way we are going to get some objective decision," he said.
Their discussion was nearly droned out by the chants of several hundred union members who were led by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and later by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who called for prayer vigils around the District while the Supreme Court makes its ruling.
To the tune of the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome," many in the crowd sang "Count Every Vote."
Bush supporter Daniel Martino, 52, saw it differently.
"I'm not comfortable how my man won, but a win's a win," said Mr. Martino, a pro-life activist who regularly protests at the court. "It's not justice and it's not equitable how Bush won, but I think it's Providence.
"Now the babies will get to live because Bush will sign the ban on partial-birth abortion," said Mr. Martino, who added, "Pray for President Bush. He'll need it."
A coterie of new and interesting signs were hoisted by those who turned out yesterday morning under gray skies and temperatures in the 30s. An enormous contingent of media once again spread out on the lawn across the street and around the court building to capture the sideshow atmosphere and drama.
"Trust Machines Because People Are Stupid," one sign read. "Wisdom Please," said another.
Others included:
"Boycott the Bush II inauguration.
"If the law doesn't fit, then you can't recount it."
"Fight the radical right."
"A dent is not intent."
The mood was upbeat as whistles blew, horns blared and harmonicas played as the crowd stayed huddled at the court well after the courtroom proceedings were concluded.
"Viva Gore," one woman yelled into the crowd.
"Speak English," responded a man, dressed in a Sore-Loserman shirt worn underneath a tweed sport coat.
As the crowds huddled in front of the court, scores waited patiently at a side entrance to get inside and see the lawyers argue before the nine justices.
Some camped out, like Irene Bortolussi, 47, and her daughter, Diana Smith, 17, and son, Kevin Smith, 12, who came to McLean 18 months ago from Walnut Creek, Calif.
They pitched a tent along East Capitol Street at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. That evening, their husband and father, David Smith, a lawyer, brought a hot roast, baked potatoes and all the trimmings he had prepared for their supper.
"It was worth it. It was very historic. I wanted to see the justices," Mrs. Bortolussi said afterward, although only Kevin was admitted for the full 90-minute court proceeding, while his mother and sister got in during the three-minute rotations.
The arguments before the Supreme Court did not last long enough for Cherry Greziosi, 43, of Chevy Chase. She got in line at 8 a.m. and was among the three-minute spectators. The court session ended before she reached the head of the line.
"I really expect what happens today will do it," Mrs. Greziosi said. "I really am a Bush supporter. I can't believe what Gore is doing."

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