Please dare call it treason 

… whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.
—Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

... these five justices have gotten away with murder, and I want to do whatever I can to make sure that they pay dearly for their crime.
—Vincent Bugliosi, The Betrayal of America, 2001

Long as we have been a nation, we have celebrated the Fourth of July with time-honored rituals: parades, red-white-and-blue bunting, a clumsy reading of the Declaration of Independence to an audience which understands perhaps half of it, and fireworks.

Backyard barbecues are also part of the sacred ceremony, which has undergone slight changes with the passage of time. In recent years, the actual reading of the document has been gradually replaced by a ritual in which one or more neighborhood children blows off one or more fingers, or perhaps takes out an eye, with illegal firecrackers. Oddly, this isn’t usually seen as a fitting commemoration of the glorious martyrs of the Revolution.

Leftist cranks used to suggest the American Revolution was really nothing more than an effort by rich landowners of the day to minimize their tax burden.

And while there was a little truth in that, this nation really was, all false sentiment aside, the best hope of mankind. Which is why I suggest you do your patriotic duty and buy and read a very important little paperback that should make you mad: Vincent Bugliosi’s absolutely marvelous The Betrayal of America: How The Supreme Court Undermined Our Constitution and Chose Our President (Nation Books, paper, $9.95).

This book is by far the most important of any about last year’s election. What makes it especially important is that Bugliosi is not just a scribbler but a super lawyer, the prosecutor who put Charlie Manson away. He’s no conspiracy-theorist crank, either; he is well-known for arguing Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. His last book, Outrage, was a bestseller that claimed O.J. Simpson was guilty as sin.

And he has put himself at some risk; he argues that the right-wing Supreme Court justices who handed the election to George W. Bush are absolute criminals who are essentially guilty of treason. “These five justices, by their conduct, have forfeited the right to be respected, and only by treating them the way they deserve to be treated can we demonstrate our respect for the rule of law they defiled,” he writes.

This isn’t just rhetoric. Calmly, methodically, he demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that there were no principles of law at stake; instead, the Criminal Five violated all the principles of states’ rights and federalism they have cited for years.

They wanted only to make sure that their man “won.” What makes this even more outrageous is that not only didn’t he win, he would, almost certainly, have been installed anyway, by the House of Representatives.

But instead, the one branch of government previously above reproach soiled itself.

“Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is this nation’s confidence in [this court] as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.”

That last quote isn’t Bugliosi, by the way. That’s U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens — a conservative Republican appointed by that wild-eyed commie Gerald Ford. Stevens may have voted for Bush, but he is a man of integrity, a product of a tradition in which the nation’s courts didn’t steal elections.

This court did. Last week I was in Washington on the last day the Supreme Court was in session, and went over and sat in the most important courtroom in America. “Is this where they made Bush president?” I heard a girl, who looked to be in her early teens, ask her mother. Which is exactly what I was thinking, less politely.

Last year, I would have looked up at the irregularly shaped chairs and thought: This was where Brown vs. Board of Education was decided. Not any more. What Bill Clinton did for the Oval Office as symbol, the five criminals have done for their chambers.

Now you might think Bugliosi would be getting a lot of attention — especially since he is the author of the classic book on the Manson family, Helter Skelter. Instead, he is being virtually ignored.

“I have experienced rejections from shows that have always welcomed me in the past,” he told the Web zine Buzzflash. “They all give me the same mantra. ‘The election is over. Bush won anyway. No one cares anymore.’” He isn’t surprised; he knows, as many of us do, the essential conformist cowardice of most in the media — and among liberals.

But Bugliosi isn’t giving up. Why? “Because this is the greatest American crime since slavery. The Supreme Court actually ruled that Americans don’t have the right to have their votes counted. This is worse than John Wayne Gacy.”

He’s right, you know. We shouldn’t accept it. Not even if the Shrub weren’t the most ignorant and unprepared president in a lifetime, a smug little right-wing puppet.

“We have to fight,” he pleads, in perhaps the most important pro-American essay since Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.” We know for a fact that Sandra Day O’Connor helped steal the election so Bush, not Al Gore, could name her successor.

So every American should urge all Democratic senators not to let Bush name anyone to the U.S. Supreme Court — to kill any nomination this phony president sends. Refuse to accept this crime, just as African-Americans refused to accept Jim Crow. On this Independence Day, I cannot think of a more truly patriotic thing to do.

Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for the Metro Times. E-mail

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