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Monday, April 29, 2013

Justice O’Connor has second thoughts about Bush v. Gore

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor says she’s having some second thoughts about whether the Supreme Court even should have taken up the most controversial case of her tenure – and one of the most controversial Supreme Court decisions in history: the one that gave the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
O’Connor was part of the 5-4 majority in Bush v. Gore, which overturned a decision of the Florida Supreme Court ordering a statewide recount.

Last week, O’Connor discussed the case with the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board.   According to the Tribune, O’Connor said the Supreme Court

"took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue … Maybe the court should have said, 'We're not going to take it, goodbye.'"

The case, she said, "stirred up the public" and "gave the court a less-than-perfect reputation."

"Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision," she said. "It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn't done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day."

In fact, Bush v. Gore was a classic example of judicial overreach.  The Supreme Court never should have granted review of the case, as it was a matter of state law that typically would be – and should have been – left to the state Supreme Court.  This overreach has only gotten worse since O’Connor resigned and President Bush replaced her with Samuel Alito.

As we document in this report over and over the Supreme Court’s conservative activist majority forces the Court to:

● Take cases it doesn’t need to hear.
● Answer legal questions it was not actually asked.
● Make up new laws out of thin air.

Bush v. Gore was among the most prominent examples of this ugly era.  Perhaps Justice O’Connor’s second thoughts will help bring this era to an end.

UPDATE, MAY 1: Talking Points Memo asks if Justice O'Connor's vote in Bush v. Gore helped undo her own legacy.

1 comment:

toto said...

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country.

The bill changes the way electoral votes are awarded by states in the Electoral College, instead of the current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all system (not mentioned in the Constitution, but since enacted by states).

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count.

The candidate with the most popular votes in the country would get the 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. That guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.

The bill uses the power given to each state in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48
current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have been by state legislative action.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls

The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states with 243 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes - 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.


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