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O'Connor: 'Don't know' if Bush v. Gore the right decision

By Robert Barnes
Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was at Georgetown Law Center Tuesday to talk about judicial elections and her worry that the Supreme Court's recent decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission will feed the "arms race" that some judicial elections have become.

But when she sat down with CNN's Wolf Blitzer following her speech, he pulled her back to another controversial decision.

"Let's look back a little bit on some history. Bush v. Gore, you remember that case in the Supreme Court," Blitzer said.

"Oh, I remember that case," O'Connor said

"Was that the right decision?" Blitzer asked.

"I don't know," O'Connor said. "It was a hard decision to make. But I do know this: there were at least three separate recounts of the votes, the ballots, in the four counties where it was challenged and not in one of the recounts would the election have changed. So I don't worry."

When Blitzer asked if "the right man was selected president," O'Connor responded, "Well, the man who got the most votes.That's what it comes down to at the end of the day."

It was a different approach from her former colleague Antonin Scalia, also in the 5 to 4 majority. When he has been asked about the decision over the years, he has usually responded with a version of "Oh, God. Get over it."

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 26, 2010; 6:55 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Supreme Court  
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Well she sure voted with the majority in the decision.

Posted by: BaltimoreRepublicanExaminer | February 1, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

It is very obvious to me,and I would think any intelligent, thinking individual,that Scalia has the right answer. "Jesus,get over it."Certain people,groups,organizations,just don't want to get over it, for their own selfish interests and reasons. There is a reward in keeping this hackneyed story alive. Case in point,this very article.The obvious essential conclusion of this interview is the final statement from O'Connor when asked if the "right man was selected." she answered,"Well the man that got the most votes.That's what it comes down to at the end of the day."There was the headline. That was it. Case closed.But that's not what Barnes wrote. OH NO ! "Don't know if Bush vs Gore the right decision."That was the lead. That is such a sloppy,bias,disingenuous piece of journalism that every single article written by this person in the future deserves to be dis-mist out of hand.Outrageous! In summation,in interviewing O'Connor at no time does the writer remind the judge,or the reader,that numerous private investigations by independent and reputable news organs,including USA Today and ABC News,all concluded that Bush was the winner of that election.Minor point Mr. Barnes? As for the pile of baffons who have exposed themseves in their remarks affirming the "stolen election" well.......

Posted by: georgewhetstine | January 27, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Um, Sandra Day O'Connor conveniently forgets that what she and her colleagues did on-by their own admission, an ad hoc decision-was stop the vote recounting on a statewide basis, not just a fifth recount of those four counties. By that time, the efficacy of the second statewide machine recount in most cases was called into question.
The original Gore request for a recount in certain counties (as he had the right to do) was being superceded (as per the Florida Supreme Court) by the necessity of a statewide manual recount-a manual recount that would have counted the "unambiguous overvote" among other votes (hanging chads, for example) that the machine wouldn't count. The unambiguous overvote was the one where machine read ballots were tossed out originally because they had a vote for 2 candidates. Thing is, when a manual recount is conducted, a lot of those ballots had a vote for the candidate as well as a "write-in" of the same candidate's name. The machine considers it an overvote and doesn't count it, but they're legal votes only discernable with human eyeballs.
Pre Bush v. Gore as well as post Bush v. Gore examination of those ballots showed Al Gore winning those voters by 1500 votes or so. Ergo, count ALL the votes, Sandra.
The American voters chose well in 2000, but were undemocratically pre-empted in their choice resulting in the disaster of Cheney/Bush. Now we have the Son of Bush v. Gore with the Supremes ad hoc comsumate empowering of the corpotatists/Republicans with last weeks decision.

Posted by: govewood | January 27, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Gore got one million votes more than Bush in 2000 yet we got a perverted result because of the electoral college. The electoral college almost returned the favor in 2004 where Bush won Ohio by 50,000 dubious votes even though he had a 2 million win nationwide. Bush losing the popular vote made Florida so hard to swallow for many Gore supporters. Bush winning the popular vote in 2004 made the outcome palatable for many Kerry voters.

It is time to scrap the electoral college and move to a one man, one vote system. Better yet get rid of the Senate and existing presidential system and adopt a British style parliamentary system.

Posted by: IMHO5 | January 27, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I guess what I'm supposed to take away from this is that O'Connor can't be right and Scalia can't be wrong in his dismissive inference. No wonder the Post is crusing toward Chap. 11 with a surfeit of damaged minds like this. Had Bush not won the election, we would have had Obama eight years earlier and who knows how much more damage he might have been able to inflict. Thank goodness for Bush, Scalia, and, yes, even O'Connor. That is something the closed-minded bigots at the Post will never understand andf they polish their resumes.

Posted by: Narquan | January 27, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Interesting comment from the former Justice. Her statements are open to a number of different interpretations, but certainly, 'stellar' in terms of level of confidence is not there. And that gives critics an opening to say a number of different things. However, that decision is now water under the bridge. We are compelled to move forward!

Posted by: Victoria5 | January 27, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Funny how conservatives rail against activist judges, and yet Bush v. Gore was the pinnacle of such behavior. Yes, thank god Bush was elected. It was worth it to fight an unnecessary war and to suffer through the Great Recession. To all the right wingnuts with their head in the sand...finding inconsistencies in your beliefs is like shooting fish in a barrel. You are not being a good citizen if you wilfully ignore the facts.

Posted by: dflynn221 | January 27, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Thank Zeus the Supremes stepped in to avert a constitutional crisis over Gore's vile scheme to throw out the rules and overturn the election through a convoluted series of highly selective and dubious "recounts".

Was that the right decision? You betcha.

Posted by: thebump | January 27, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

If you don't investigate the 2000 how do you where the election process is broken? How can you stop another corrupted election if you don't find the problem? Look what happened in Ohio in 2004. Neither election had a clear cut winner. The conservative court ended up appointing their boy the winner and the democratic world lost. The 2000 election is the lowest point in American history. And until the problem is fixed and the corrupt Republican Party removed from that process Americans will never have another trustworthy election.

Posted by: BigTrees | January 27, 2010 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Sandra Day O'Connor has to take the blame for 8 years of George W. Bush. She was the only hope for a honest outcome and she voted her politics and not what was right. She may be able to live with herself for her vote but the millions of Americans whose lives have been adversely affected can not live the lives they could have had. This great recession is an outcome of her vote, there is no doubt about that. Her legacy has forever been tarnished by her decision, as it should be.

Posted by: mythsdreams | January 27, 2010 6:38 AM | Report abuse

You troll this whole site, huh? I bet when you were younger you trolled around AOL chatrooms. I always wondered what those trolls would be like when the grew up. Sorry to see you haven't really grown up in an perceptible way.

Posted by: fischy | January 27, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

O'Connor states:

"I don't know," O'Connor said. "It was a hard decision to make. But I do know this: there were at least three separate recounts of the votes, the ballots, in the four counties where it was challenged and not in one of the recounts would the election have changed. So I don't worry."

O'Connor is willfully stupid. Had the process
been carried out according to state law, Bush
might or might not have won. The key issue is, however, that the Supreme Court took sides in a partisan conflict and ensured that it would forever tarnish its reputation. Bush v. Gore is as egregious as Dred Scott, where the court also tried to do a "greater good" by interfering in the political process. In Bush v. Gore, of course, the "greater good" was ensuring that Bush was seen as a legitimate president, which of course he was not. Had the process been seen through, however, he would have probably won (it could easily have gone to the House of Representatives, where the Republicans controlled), but it would have been seen as a political event by political bodies, rather than a political event by a supposed neutral body, the Supreme Court.

Posted by: garbage1 | January 26, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

No matter how the democrats sliced and diced the vote, Bush won--and Supreme Court confirmed the win--Justice Scalia has it right, time for the losers to get over it and move on.

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Posted by: sfdgerygyhjujedtgfhfg | January 26, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Sore Loserman!!! The guy got so mad at the world he pushed global warming on us all, one of the biggest hoaxes of the past century. Thank God Bush was able to steal that election.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | January 26, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

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