Sandra Day O’Connor now says she’s having second thoughts about a case that many folks say determined who would be elected president of the United States in 2000.
My first thought when I saw that was that Al Gore may have thrown something large and heavy at a breakable object when he heard the news. My second thought, once I read what the retired Supreme Court justice said, was that the outcome likely may have been the same.
Either way, I still wonder: What took her so long to reach this conclusion?
O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the high court, selected by President Reagan in 1981. She retired in 2006 after taking part in the landmark decision that enabled Texas Gov. George W. Bush to be elected president over then-Vice President Gore by the narrowest margin in memory.
The 5-4 decision, with O’Connor voting with the majority, ended the recount of ballots in Florida. Bush had about 500 more votes than Gore in Florida, giving him the state’s electoral votes needed to put him into the White House. He won with 271 electoral votes to Gore’s 266 votes, needing 270 to ensure victory. And all this occurred with Gore capturing more popular votes nationally than the guy who won.
O’Connor says now that the court perhaps should have tossed it back to the state and not decided it. “Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye,'” O’Connor told the Chicago Tribune.
What would have happened? Well, the recount could have continued and perhaps Bush’s lead would have held up. Or, perhaps, Gore could scarfed up a few more votes, wiped out Bush’s slim margin and he would have won the state’s electoral votes, enabling the VP to move into the White House.
More than 12 years after one of the most controversial rulings in Supreme Court history, the debate is about to catch fire all over again.