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O’Connor: Maybe SCOTUS should have declined cert in Bush v. Gore

Posted Apr 29, 2013 11:43 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is having some second thoughts about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant cert in Bush v. Gore.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune editorial board, O’Connor said the court may have been wrong to accept the case involving the disputed vote count in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. The court’s decision effectively paved the way for George W. Bush to become president.

“Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye,’ ” O’Connor said.

The retired justice told the Tribune that the case “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.”

O’Connor also talked about the decision in a 2010 interview with CNN, according to the Washington Post’s Post Politics blog. Asked if the court made the right decision, O’Connor responded, “I don’t know.” She added that there were at least three recounts in four counties where the vote was challenged, and the election would not have changed. “So I don’t worry,” O’Connor said. Post Politics says the result might have been different, however, if the limited recounts triggered a statewide recount.

Supreme Court reporter Jeffrey Toobin told NPR last month he believes O’Connor regrets her vote with the per curiam majority in Bush v. Gore, even if she won’t admit as much, according to Post Politics.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Retired Justice Stevens Hits ‘Misleading’ Parts of Bush v. Gore, Suggests Extension of Rationale”

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