O'Connor has second thoughts about court's role in 2000 election
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has not given much thought to which was the most important case she helped decide during her 25 years on the bench — but she has no doubt which was most controversial.
It was Bush v. Gore, which ended the Florida vote recount and decided the 2000 presidential election.
Looking back, she said, she is not sure the high court should have taken the case.
“It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue,” O'Connor said during a talk with the Chicago Tribune's Editorial Board on Friday. “Maybe the court should have said, ‘We're not going to take it, goodbye.' ”
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, who was appointed by President Reagan in 1981, was the first woman to serve on the high court. She was known to provide a swing vote on the court. Her vote in the 5-4 Bush v. Gore decision effectively handed President George W. Bush a victory.
O'Connor, 83, said that while other members of the court never personally lobbied for her vote, they did try to convince her by including points in their written arguments that they believed she would support. Sometimes, she said, they were successful.
Since retiring in 2006, O'Connor said she still enjoys going to the Supreme Court and listening to oral arguments when she's in Washington. And she reads the briefs once the decision comes down.
“When I go and sit in the courtroom and look at the bench and see three women, it perks me up,” she said, referring to Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Man caught jumping White House fence
- Coast Guard to seek billions to protect Arctic interests
- Coburn’s final ‘Wastebook’ tallies $25B in what he considers ‘pork’
- 4 private security guards convicted
- 8 arrested in post-game riots in Morgantown
- Personal use of Secret Service agents on staffer’s behalf draws investigaton
- Social Security recipients to get increase in benefits
- Ferguson slaying of Brown reconstructed in county autopsy
- Captive freed by North Korea enjoys tearful reunion in Ohio
- Immigration work permits could rise under contract
- Academic scandal at University of North Carolina bigger than previously reported