Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor admitted she has second thoughts on whether or not the Supreme Court should have taken up the Bush v. Gore case that ultimately decided the 2000 presidential election–in favor of George W. Bush.
“It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue,” O’Connor said during a recent conversation with the Chicago Tribune editorial board. “Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’”
O’Connor sided with the majority in the 5-4 decision that effectively gave George W. Bush victory over then-Vice President Al Gore.
The decision was criticized by many legal experts who argued that conservative leaning judges used a legal argument on the Equal Protection Clause that was out of line with their typical beliefs. The majority opinion included the line, ”Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities,” which many interpret as a sign that the justices supported the outcome of their decision more than the legal basis for it.
O’Connor also said that while Florida election officials “hadn’t done a real good job there and kind of messed it up” that the court probably “added to the problem at the end of the day.”
The former justice added that the controversial Bush v. Gore decision, “stirred up the public” and “gave the court a less-than-perfect reputation.”