Bush v. Gore
Bush v. Gore was the case brought before the Supreme Court to decide the year 2000 Presidential election which had been held up with neither candidate George W. Bush nor Al Gore conceding defeat. A number of lower court cases in the Florida courts had already been fought, and the U.S. Supreme Court had unanimously rejected one recount order. The case was heard on December 11, 2000 over one month after the election had taken place. The Florida Supreme Court had just ruled in a controversial split decision that court personnel would do a partial manual recount in four counties, according to procedures that were never revealed, based upon the specific request of Al Gore's camp as to which counties he wished to see the recounts done (the four counties were Volusia, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade, all of which had majority Democrat-voting populations). The recount standard was done differently from county to county and sometimes from counting team to counting team. The Supreme court overturned that plan 7 to 2, and then in a 5 to 4 decision ruled that the time to find additional recounts method had passed. In effect, this solidified the results as they had been recorded, allowing George W. Bush to claim victory and enter the Presidency.
In an unsigned per curiam decision, the court explained that state legislative power to choose electors, as conferred by the Constitution, can be taken by state legislatures at any time:
|“||The State, of course, after granting the franchise in the special context of Article II, can take back the power to appoint electors. See id., at 35 (“[T]here is no doubt of the right of the legislature to resume the power at any time, for it can neither be taken away nor abdicated”) (quoting S. Rep. No. 395, 43d Cong., 1st Sess.).||”|
Independent news agencies later did their own recounts, trying to simulate how the Florida court might have done it. They found that under most scenarios, the recounts would have favored Bush, but that the court could have manipulated the process to declare Gore the winner.
Many people were unhappy with the courts intervening in the election:
- Republicans complained that the Florida supreme court tried to alter the certified count with procedures that had never been used before. They also supported the Constitutionally-mandated electoral college rather than the popular vote in deciding presidential elections.
- Democrats were unhappy that the US Supreme Court stopped the Florida supreme court's decision to force a recount. They also claimed that the court had a Republican or Bush Family bias. Many Democrats, such as Hillary Clinton, oppose the electoral college.
- In the intervening years, Volusia has become a Republican-leaning county, while the other three remain solidly Democrat-leaning.
- Strauss, David. The Vote: Bush, Gore, & the Supreme Court. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Kaus, Mickey. "Everything the New York Times Thinks About the Florida Recount Is Wrong!". Slate. 13 November 2001. http://www.slate.com/?id=2058603. Accessed 10 November 2009.