By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Photo by Matt OttoGeorge W. Bush may think he's got amandate to push his right-wing agenda for the next four years, but there's a catch. He's not actually president of the United States. He's just a private citizen who usurped his office four years ago. In fact, the real president is none other than Al Gore, who had his job stolen from him with a little help from the Electoral College and the U.S. Supreme Court.
That's the argument behind what claims to be the largest civil-rights lawsuit in the history of the country, which was submitted Oct. 26 at U.S. District Court in Santa Ana. The suit by Gary Michael Coutin, a non-practicing attorney who lives in South County, names as defendants the "usurper President" Bush, the "usurper Vice President" Dick Cheney, the "usurper Attorney General" John Ashcroft and the United States of America itself.
According to Coutin's lawsuit, the "Electoral College violates natural right, natural law and universal reason and is therefore unconstitutional and void." The lawsuit also claims the Electoral College "violates the simple rules of mathematics, arithmetic, reason, logic and law. It does so because it incorporates the irrational and contradictory principle of Animal Farm that, although all Americans are equal, some are more equal than others."
According to Coutin, the Electoral College is actually an outgrowth of the College of Cardinals, which originated in the "Catholic" state of Maryland. "Through the College of Cardinals and the Holy Roman Empire, the Electoral College comes to our country as a device of the aristocracy," he said. "The Electoral College is unconstitutional. That's the proof. I don't need anything more."
Coutin says he originally got the idea of suing the Electoral College on Nov. 8, 2000, shortly after he claims Al Gore became the 43rd president of the United States. "I woke up that morning and said to myself that the only thing that stopped peace and prosperity from proceeding is the Electoral College. I found an African-American in Georgia who wanted to sue the Electoral College and filed my first lawsuit against the Electoral College. But I couldn't serve them because I couldn't find out who they were."
So Coutin went to the library and began researching every lawsuit he could find that mentioned the Electoral College, finally producing a 70-page complaint just days before Bush won re-election. The fact that Coutin isn't a practicing attorney—he has lost his state-bar membership four times since 1989 for failing to pay membership fees—doesn't matter, he said. "I'm not representing anybody," he said. "I'm representing myself. What? Did I suddenly get a brain transplant and forget everything? I'm still a lawyer."
Coutin has previously filed lawsuits against his alma mater, the Hastings College of Law; the regents of the University of California; and the state of California itself. He claims his lawsuit against Hastings came after he discovered that the judges who run the college were embezzling student-scholarship funds to invest in real estate.
He claims that particular suit was stymied because all the judges in San Francisco graduated from Hastings. "They ran me out of town," he said. "They made sure I could never make any money as a lawyer. They wanted me to stop practicing law. That's why I had to come down here."
Asked what he does for a day job, Coutin demurred. "It doesn't matter," he said. "I've got a minimum-wage job, okay? I'm the smartest guy you ever met. I wrote a history of the universe, okay? It's the best history of the universe ever written, but they won't print it. I also wrote the history of the Electoral College."
You can find Coutin's current lawsuit online at www.hesnotthepresident.com, but not at the U.S. District Courthouse in Santa Ana. That's because court officials refused to accept it, Coutin claimed. "They took my money but didn't give me a receipt, wouldn't file it and wouldn't assign a judge," he said.
Nonetheless, Coutin insists his lawsuit will eventually topple Bush the Usurper.
"This is the biggest civil-rights lawsuit ever filed in the USA," he said. "The Electoral College has made slaves of us all. I'm Abraham Lincoln, and I'm going to free the slaves."