|Bush v. Gore|
|Argued December 11, 2000|
Decided December 12, 2000
|Full case name||George W. Bush and Richard Cheney, Petitioners v. Albert Gore, Jr. and Joseph Lieberman, et al.|
|Citations||531 U.S. 98 (more)|
|Prior||Judgment for defendant, Fla. Cir. Ct.; matter certified to Florida Supreme Court, Fla. Ct. App.; aff'd in part, rev'd in part, sub nom. Palm Beach County Canvassing Bd. v. Harris, 772 So. 2d 1273 (2000); cert. granted, stay granted, 531 U.S. 1036 (2000).|
|In the circumstances of this case, any manual recount of votes seeking to meet the December 12 "safe harbor" deadline would be unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Florida Supreme Court reversed and remanded.|
|Concurrence||Rehnquist, joined by Scalia, Thomas|
|Dissent||Stevens, joined by Ginsburg, Breyer|
|Dissent||Souter, joined by Breyer; Stevens, Ginsburg (all but Part III)|
|Dissent||Ginsburg, joined by Stevens; Souter, Breyer (Part I)|
|Dissent||Breyer, joined by Stevens, Ginsburg (except Part I–A–1); Souter (Part I)|
|U.S. Const. art. II, § 1, cl. 2, amend. XIV; 3 U.S.C. § 5|
46th Governor of Texas
43rd President of the United States
Vice President of the United States
Vice presidential campaigns
Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000), was a decision of the United States Supreme Court on December 12, 2000, that settled a recount dispute in Florida's 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. On December 8, the Florida Supreme Court had ordered a statewide recount of all undervotes, over 61,000 ballots that the vote tabulation machines had missed. The Bush campaign immediately asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the decision and halt the recount. Justice Antonin Scalia, convinced that all the manual recounts being performed in Florida's counties were illegitimate, urged his colleagues to grant the stay immediately. On December 9, the five conservative justices on the Court granted the stay, with Scalia citing "irreparable harm" that could befall Bush, as the recounts would cast "a needless and unjustified cloud" over Bush's legitimacy. In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that "counting every legally cast vote cannot constitute irreparable harm." Oral arguments were scheduled for December 11.
In a 5–4 per curiam decision, the Court ruled, strictly on equal protection grounds, that the recount be stopped. Specifically, it held that the use of different standards of counting in different counties violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution; the case had also been argued on Article II jurisdictional grounds, which found favor with only Justices Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and William Rehnquist. The Court then ruled as to a remedy, deciding against the remedy proposed by Justices Stephen Breyer and David Souter to send the case back to Florida to complete the recount using a uniform statewide standard before the scheduled December 18 meeting of Florida's electors in Tallahassee. Instead, the majority held that no alternative method could be established within the discretionary December 12 "safe harbor" deadline set by Title 3 of the United States Code (3 U.S.C.), § 5, which the Florida Supreme Court had stated that the Florida Legislature intended to meet. That deadline arrived two hours after the release of the Court's decision. The Court, holding that not meeting the "safe harbor" deadline would therefore violate the Florida Election Code, rejected an extension of the deadline.
The Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore was among the most controversial in U.S. history, as it allowed the vote certification made by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris to stand, giving Bush Florida's 25 electoral votes. Florida's votes gave Bush, the Republican nominee, 271 electoral votes, one more than the 270 required to win the Electoral College. This meant the defeat of Democratic candidate Al Gore, who won 267 electoral votes but received 266, as a "faithless elector" from the District of Columbia abstained from voting. Media organizations later analyzed the ballots and found that, under specified criteria, the originally pursued recount of undervotes of several large counties would have confirmed a Bush victory, whereas a statewide recount would have resulted in a Gore victory. Florida later retired the punch-card voting machines that produced the ballots disputed in the case.
In the United States, each state conducts its own popular vote election for president and vice president. The voters are actually voting for a slate of electors, each of whom pledges to vote for a particular candidate for each office in the Electoral College. Article II, § 1, cl. 2 of the U.S. Constitution provides that each state legislature decides how electors are chosen. Referring to an earlier Supreme Court case, McPherson v. Blacker, the Court noted that early in U.S. history, most state legislatures directly appointed their slates of electors.
Today, state legislatures have enacted laws to provide for the selection of electors by popular vote within each state. While these laws vary, most states, including Florida, award all electoral votes to the candidate for either office who receives a plurality of the state's popular vote. Any candidate who receives an absolute majority of all electoral votes nationally (270 since 1963) wins the presidential or vice-presidential election.
On November 8, 2000, the Florida Division of Elections reported that Bush won with 48.8% of the vote in Florida, a margin of victory of 1,784 votes. The margin of victory was less than 0.5% of the votes cast, so a statutorily mandated automatic machine recount occurred. On November 10, with the machine recount apparently finished in all but one county, Bush's margin of victory had decreased to 327 votes.
According to legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, later analysis showed that 18 counties—accounting for a quarter of all votes cast in Florida—did not carry out the legally mandated machine recount, but "No one from the Gore campaign ever challenged this view" that the machine recount had been completed. Florida's election laws allow a candidate to request a county to conduct a manual recount, and Gore requested manual recounts in four Florida counties—Volusia, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade—that generally vote Democratic and would be expected to find more votes for Gore. Gore did not request any recounts in counties that generally vote Republican. The four counties granted the request and began manual recounts. But Florida law also required all counties to certify their election returns to the Florida secretary of state within seven days of the election, and several of the counties conducting manual recounts did not believe they could meet this deadline.
On November 14, the statutory deadline, the Florida Circuit Court ruled that the seven-day deadline was mandatory but that the counties could amend their returns at a later date. The court also ruled that the secretary of state, after "considering all attendant facts and circumstances", had discretion to include any late amended returns in the statewide certification. Before the 5 p.m. deadline on November 14, Volusia County completed its manual recount and certified its results. At 5 p.m. on November 14, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris announced that she had received the certified returns from all 67 counties, while Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties were still conducting manual recounts.
Harris issued a set of criteria by which she would determine whether to allow late filings, and she required any county seeking to make a late filing to submit to her, by 2 p.m. the following day, a written statement of the facts and circumstances justifying the late filing. Four counties submitted statements, and after reviewing the submissions, Harris determined that none justified an extension of the filing deadline. She further announced that after she received the certified returns of the overseas absentee ballots from each county, she would certify the results of the presidential election on November 18. But on November 17, the Florida Supreme Court enjoined Harris from certifying the election while it heard appeals from the various cases in progress. On November 21, it allowed continuation of the manual recounts and delayed certification until November 26.
Stay of the Florida recount
By December 8, 2000, there had been multiple court decisions about the presidential election in Florida. On that date, the Florida Supreme Court, by a 4–3 vote, ordered a statewide manual recount of undervotes. On December 9, ruling in response to an emergency request from Bush, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the recount. The Court also treated Bush's application for relief as a petition for a writ of certiorari, granted that petition, requested briefing from the parties by 4 p.m. on December 10, and scheduled oral argument for the morning of December 11.
Although opinions are rarely issued in connection with grants of certiorari (a minimum of four of the nine justices must vote in favor of the grant), Scalia filed an opinion concurring in the Court's decision, writing that "a brief response is necessary to [Stevens's] dissent". According to Scalia,
It suffices to say that the issuance of the stay suggests that a majority of the Court, while not deciding the issues presented, believe that the petitioner has a substantial probability of success. The issue is not, as the dissent puts it, whether "counting every legally cast vote can constitute irreparable harm." One of the principal issues in the appeal we have accepted is precisely whether the votes that have been ordered to be counted are, under a reasonable interpretation of Florida law, "legally cast vote[s]." The counting of votes that are of questionable legality does in my view threaten irreparable harm to petitioner Bush, and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election. Count first, and rule upon legality afterwards, is not a recipe for producing election results that have the public acceptance democratic stability requires.
Stevens's dissenting opinion was joined by Justices Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer. According to Stevens,
To stop the counting of legal votes, the majority today departs from three venerable rules of judicial restraint that have guided the Court throughout its history. On questions of state law, we have consistently respected the opinions of the highest courts of the States. On questions whose resolution is committed at least in large measure to another branch of the Federal Government, we have construed our own jurisdiction narrowly and exercised it cautiously. On federal constitutional questions that were not fairly presented to the court whose judgment is being reviewed, we have prudently declined to express an opinion. The majority has acted unwisely. … [A] stay should not be granted unless an applicant makes a substantial showing of a likelihood of irreparable harm. In this case, petitioners have failed to carry that heavy burden. Counting every legally cast vote cannot constitute irreparable harm. On the other hand, there is a danger that a stay may cause irreparable harm to respondents–and, more importantly, the public at large … . Preventing the recount from being completed will inevitably cast a cloud on the legitimacy of the election.
A number of legal scholars have agreed with the dissenters' argument that Bush failed to carry the "heavy burden" of demonstrating a "likelihood of irreparable harm".
During the brief period when the U.S. Supreme Court was deliberating on Bush v. Gore, the Florida Supreme Court provided clarifications of its November 21 decision in Palm Beach County Canvassing Board v. Harris (Harris I), which the U.S. Supreme Court had requested on December 4 following arguments in the case of Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board.
Because of the extraordinary nature and argued urgency of the case, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Bush v. Gore on December 12, a day after hearing oral argument.
Article II, § 1, cl. 2 of the Constitution specifies the number of electors per state, and, most relevant to this case, specifies the manner in which those electors are selected, stipulating that:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors ...
This clause arguably gives power to only one branch of Florida's state government: the state legislature.
Section 2 of the Electoral Count Act, now codified in 3 U.S.C. § 5, regulates the "determination of controversy as to appointment of electors" in presidential elections. Of particular relevance to this case was the so-called "safe harbor" provision, which assures Congress's deference to states in their appointments of electors if done by a specified deadline:
If any State shall have provided [...] for its final determination of [...] the appointment of all or any of the electors of such State [...] at least six days before the time fixed for the meeting of the electors, such determination [...] shall be conclusive.
Since the electors were set to meet December 18, the discretional "safe harbor" deadline was December 12, just one day after the Court heard oral arguments in this case.
Final judgments or decrees rendered by the highest court of a State in which a decision could be had, may be reviewed by the Supreme Court by writ of certiorari where the validity of a treaty or statute of the United States is drawn in question or where the validity of a statute of any State is drawn in question on the ground of its being repugnant to the Constitution, treaties, or laws of the United States ...
Issues considered by the Court
The Court had to resolve two different questions to fully resolve the case:
- Were the recounts, as they were being conducted, constitutional?
- If the recounts were unconstitutional, what was the appropriate remedy?
Three days earlier, the five-Justice majority had ordered the recount stopped, and the Court had to decide whether to restart it.
Equal Protection Clause
Bush argued that recounts in Florida violated the Equal Protection Clause because Florida did not have a statewide vote recount standard. Each county determined on its own whether a given ballot was valid. Two voters could have marked their ballots in an identical manner, but the ballot in one county would be counted while the ballot in a different county would be rejected, because of the conflicting manual recount standards.
Gore argued that there was indeed a statewide standard, the "intent of the voter" standard, and that this standard was sufficient under the Equal Protection Clause. Furthermore, he argued that the consequence of ruling the Florida recount unconstitutional simply because it treated different voters differently would effectively render every state election unconstitutional and that each voting mechanism has a different rate of error in counting votes. Voters in a "punch-card" county have a greater chance of having their votes undercounted than voters in an "optical scanner" county. If Bush prevails, Gore argued, every state would have to have one statewide method of recording votes to be constitutional.
This was the most closely decided issue in the case. The arguments presented by counsel did not extensively address what the Court should do if the Court were to find an equal protection violation. But Gore did argue briefly that the appropriate remedy would not be to cancel all recounts, but rather to order a proper recount.
Bush also argued that the Florida Supreme Court's ruling violated Article II, § 1, cl. 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Essentially, Bush argued that the Florida Supreme Court's interpretation of Florida law was so erroneous that its ruling had the effect of making new law. Since this "new law" had not been enacted by the Florida legislature, it violated Article II. Bush argued that Article II gives the federal judiciary the power to interpret state election law in presidential elections to ensure that the intent of the state legislature is followed.
Gore argued that Article II presupposes judicial review and interpretation of state statutes, and that the Florida Supreme Court did nothing more than exercise the routine principles of statutory construction to reach its decision.
In brief, the breakdown of the decision was:
- Five justices agreed that there was an Equal Protection Clause violation in using differing standards of determining a valid vote in different counties, causing an "unequal evaluation of ballots in various respects". The per curiam opinion (representing the views of Justices Kennedy, O'Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas) specifically cited that:
- Palm Beach County changed standards for counting dimpled chads several times during the counting process;
- Broward County used less restrictive standards than Palm Beach County;
- Miami-Dade County's recount of rejected ballots did not include all precincts;
- The Florida Supreme Court did not specify who would recount the ballots.
- The per curiam opinion also identified an inconsistency with the fact that the Florida statewide recount of rejected ballots was limited to undervotes. The opinion implied that a constitutionally valid recount would include Florida's overvotes, not just its undervotes. The opinion expressed concern that the limited scope of Florida's recount would mean that, unlike some undervotes found to be reclaimable, valid votes among the overvotes would not be reclaimed.[a] Furthermore, if a machine had incorrectly read an overvote as a valid vote for one of two marked candidates instead of rejecting it, Florida would wrongly count what should be an invalid vote.[b]
- Breyer and Souter disagreed with the majority, pointing out that Bush presented no evidence in any court of uncounted legal overvotes and did not see any problem in Florida's decision to limit its recount to undervotes. The dissents of Breyer and Souter were full dissents. Unlike the five-justice majority, each identified an equal protection concern that did not rise to the level of a constitutional violation, and proposed a remedy different from the majority's remedy. A dissenting opinion does not create precedent nor does it become a part of case law. Under the American legal system, dissenting court opinions are not considered valid holdings and are not included in the court's ruling. Nothing in Breyer's or Souter's dissents can be construed as part of any decision by the Court.
- In dissenting, Ginsburg wrote that, for better or worse, disparities were a part of all elections and that if an equal-protection argument applied in any way, it surely applied more to black voters.
- Five justices agreed that December 12 (the date of the decision) was the deadline Florida had established for recounts in keeping with 3 U.S.C. §5 (Rehnquist, O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas in support; Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer opposed). Souter, joined by Breyer, Ginsburg and Stevens, wrote, "But no State is required to conform to §5 if it cannot do that (for whatever reason); the sanction for failing to satisfy the conditions of §5 is simply loss of what has been called its 'safe harbor.' And even that determination is to be made, if made anywhere, in the Congress." Souter and Breyer would have remanded the case to the Florida Supreme Court to permit that court to establish uniform standards of what constituted a legal vote for a manual recount of all rejected ballots using those standards.
- Three justices (Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas) argued that the Florida Supreme Court had acted contrary to the intent of the Florida legislature. Four (Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer) specifically disputed this in their dissenting opinions, and the remaining two (O'Connor and Kennedy) declined to join Rehnquist's concurrence on the matter.
- Unknown at the time, but observed in the later media recounts, there was a significant number of such valid overvotes found among the rejected ballots in optical scan counties, which largely favored Gore.
- The opinion does not suggest a practical method for searching for and manually identifying such ballots among the thousands of legally cast and counted ballots with which they would be mixed.
Equal Protection Clause
In its per curiam opinion, the Supreme Court ruled that the Florida Supreme Court decision calling for a statewide recount violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Kennedy has since been identified as the opinion's primary author. In addition to writing the opinion, he included Souter, Breyer and Stevens as agreeing that there were equal protection "problems" without consulting them. Stevens demanded his name be removed from the draft opinion, which Kennedy agreed to only after Stevens pulled his name from Breyer's dissent. Breyer also objected in private. The New York Times reported that Kennedy's opinion "later caused some confusion by its reference to 'seven justices of the court' who 'agree that there are constitutional problems with the recount.' That was true, but it was also beside the point." Later interviews by Vanity Fair indicated that Breyer and Souter were trying to appeal to Kennedy to join them on the remedy, rather than agreeing that an equal protection violation had occurred. Jack Balkin, writing in Yale Law Journal, considered this a cheap trick to construct the illusion of a larger majority, likening it to "saying that two doctors agree that a patient is sick, but one wants to use leeches, and the other wants to prescribe antibiotics".
The Court held that the Equal Protection Clause guarantees to individuals that their ballots cannot be devalued by "later arbitrary and disparate treatment". Even if the recount was fair in theory, it was unfair in practice. The record, as weighed by the Florida Supreme Court, suggested that different standards were seemingly applied to the recount from ballot to ballot, precinct to precinct, and county to county, even when identical types of ballots and machines were used.
According to the Court, the statewide standard (that a "legal vote" is "one in which there is a 'clear indication of the intent of the voter'") could not guarantee that each county would count the votes in a constitutionally permissible fashion. The Court stated that the per curiam opinion's applicability was "limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities." But the Court did not identify those complexities, nor did it explain (or apparently consider) why the absence of a constitutionally acceptable standard for counting votes, which was the basis for the Court's ruling, would not have invalidated the entire presidential election in Florida.
Critics later pointed out that the court had denied certiorari on equal protection grounds when Bush first sought Supreme Court review. Law clerks who worked for Kennedy and O'Connor at the time later said they believed the justices settled on equal protection as grounds for their decision, rather than Article II, because they thought it would seem fairer.
The Court ruled 5–4 that no constitutionally valid recount could be completed by a December 12 "safe harbor" deadline. The Court asserted that "the Supreme Court of Florida has said that the legislature intended the State's electors to 'participat[e] fully in the federal electoral process,' as provided in 3 U.S.C. § 5." The Court therefore effectively ended the proposed recount, because "the Florida Legislature intended to obtain the safe-harbor benefits of 3 U.S.C. §5." Souter said bluntly, "The 3 U.S.C. §5 issue is not serious." Breyer's dissent stated, "By halting the manual recount, and thus ensuring that uncounted legal votes will not be counted under any standard, this Court crafts a remedy out of proportion to the asserted harm. And that remedy harms the very fairness interests the Court is attempting to protect."
Four justices (Stevens, Ginsburg, Souter and Breyer) had dissented from the Court's earlier (December 9) decision, by the same five-justice majority, to grant Bush's emergency request to stop the recount and grant certiorari. In their dissents from the Court's December 12 per curiam opinion, Breyer and Souter acknowledged that the counting up until December 9 had not conformed with equal protection requirements. But Souter and Breyer favored remanding the case to the Florida Supreme Court for the purpose of crafting specific guidelines for how to count disputed ballots, in contrast to the majority's decision to halt the recount altogether. The actual counting had ended with the December 9 ruling, issued three days before any deadline.
The dissenting opinions strongly criticized the majority for involving the Court in state-level affairs. Stevens's dissent (joined by Breyer and Ginsburg) concluded as follows:
What must underlie petitioners' entire federal assault on the Florida election procedures is an unstated lack of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed. Otherwise, their position is wholly without merit. The endorsement of that position by the majority of this Court can only lend credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land. It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law. Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today's decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.
The per curiam opinion did not technically dismiss the case and instead "remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion." Gore's attorneys therefore understood that they could fight on and could petition the Florida Supreme Court to repudiate the notion that December 12 was final under Florida law.
Despite this, Gore dropped the case—and conceded the election to Bush shortly afterward—reportedly because he was not optimistic about how the Florida justices would react to further arguments and, as one of his advisers put it, "the best Gore could hope for was a slate of disputed electors". In addition, Gore campaign chairman Bill Daley argued that fighting on was futile because even if the Florida Supreme Court defied the U.S. Supreme Court and ordered a new recount, "the GOP would take them straight back to Washington, where the [U.S.] Supreme Court would repeat: 'You ain't going to count, okay? So quit bothering us.'"
On remand, the Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion on December 22 that did not dispute whether December 12 was the deadline for recounts under state law. This was disputed in a concurring opinion by Florida Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw, who nevertheless expressed deference to the U.S. Supreme Court's view on this issue and also argued that, in any case, the Florida Supreme Court would (in his opinion) be unable to craft a remedy that would satisfy all the U.S. Supreme Court's equal protection, due process, and other concerns.
Rehnquist's concurring opinion, joined by Scalia and Thomas, began by emphasizing that this was an unusual case in which the Constitution requires federal courts to assess whether a state supreme court has properly interpreted the will of the state legislature. Usually, federal courts do not make that type of assessment, and indeed the per curiam opinion in this case did not do so. After addressing this aspect of the case, Rehnquist examined and agreed with arguments that the dissenting justices of the Florida Supreme Court had made.
Rehnquist also mentioned that he, Scalia, and Thomas joined the Supreme Court's per curiam opinion and agreed with the legal analysis presented there.
The ruling also states: "the state legislature's power to select the manner for appointing electors is plenary; it may, if it so chooses, select the electors itself, which indeed was the manner used by state legislatures in several States for many years after the framing of our Constitution. ... The State, of course, after granting the franchise in the special context of Article II, can take back the power to appoint electors."
Bush v. Gore prompted many strong reactions from scholars, pundits and others, with a majority of publications in law reviews being critical. A Georgetown Law Journal analysis found that 78 scholarly articles were published about the case between 2001 and 2004, with 35 criticizing the decision and 11 defending it.
The critical remedial issue
The most closely decided aspect of the case was the key question of what remedy the Court should order, in view of an Equal Protection Clause violation. Gore had argued for a new recount that would pass constitutional muster, but the Court instead chose to end the election. Citing two Florida Supreme Court opinions, Gore v. Harris (December 8, seemingly in error) and Palm Beach County Canvassing Board v. Harris (November 21, footnote 55), the U.S. Supreme Court asserted that "the Florida Supreme Court has said that the Florida Legislature intended to obtain the safe-harbor benefits of 3 U.S.C. § 5" and that "any recount seeking to meet the December 12 date will be unconstitutional". This assertion has proven very controversial.
Finding that reasoning unpersuasive, Michael W. McConnell writes that the two Florida court opinions the Supreme Court cited supply no authoritative pronouncement of an absolute deadline. As better support for December 12 as the deadline under state law, McConnell points to two footnotes in the Florida Supreme Court's December 11 response on remand in Palm Beach County Canvassing Board v. Harris (Harris I), which he says must not have come to the justices' attention. Footnotes 17 and 22 called the safe harbor date of December 12 an "outside deadline". Therefore, he writes, although these passages may not justify the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, since the Court did not rely on them, "the Court may have reached the right result for the wrong reason". These footnotes state:
 What is a reasonable time required for completion will, in part, depend on whether the election is for a statewide office, for a federal office or for presidential electors. In the case of the presidential election, the determination of reasonableness must be circumscribed by the provisions of 3 U.S.C. § 5, which sets December 12, 2000, as the date for final determination of any state's dispute concerning its electors for that determination to be given conclusive effect in Congress ...  As always, it is necessary to read all provisions of the elections code in pari materia. In this case, that comprehensive reading required that there be time for an elections contest pursuant to section 102.168, which all parties had agreed was a necessary component of the statutory scheme and to accommodate the outside deadline set forth in 3 U.S.C. § 5 of December 12, 2000.
According to Nelson Lund, former law clerk to O'Connor and associate counsel to George H. W. Bush, a dissenter might argue that the Florida Supreme Court on remand in Harris I was discussing the "protest provisions of the Florida Election Code, whereas the issues in Bush v. Gore arose under the contest provisions". In retort to himself, Lund writes that the Florida court's decision in the contest case did not mention any alternative possible deadlines. Peter Berkowitz writes, "Perhaps it would have been more generous for the Court to have asked the Florida court on remand whether 'outside deadline' referred to contest-period as well as protest-period recounts." Abner Greene points to evidence that "the Florida Supreme Court thought all manual recounts—whether protest or contest—must be completed no later than December 12." Nevertheless, Greene concludes "lack of clarity about the Florida Supreme Court's views on the safe-harbor provision should have resulted in a remand to that court for clarification", in addition to the remand of December 4. The Court in Bush v. Gore did remand the case instead of dismissing it, but the remand did not include another request for clarification. Louise Weinberg argues that even giving the U.S. Supreme Court the benefit of the doubt that it acted appropriately in intervening in Florida state law, its actions should be deemed unconstitutional because its intervention was not coupled with any kind of remedy aimed at determining the election's actual outcome.
Arguably, the Florida Supreme Court, after having stated on December 11 that December 12 was an "outside deadline", could have clarified its views on the safe-harbor provision or reinterpreted Florida law to state that December 12 was not a final deadline under Florida law, which the U.S. Supreme Court did not forbid the Florida Supreme Court from doing. Lund states that, as a practical matter, the Florida Supreme Court was unlikely to have actually been capable of conducting and completing a new constitutionally valid recount by the December 18 deadline for the meeting of the Electoral College.
Michael Abramowicz and Maxwell Stearns argue that if the Florida Supreme Court had clarified or reinterpreted Florida state law on remand, then the U.S. Supreme Court might have struck down the Florida Supreme Court's action as a violation of Article II of the Constitution. Abramowicz and Stearns point out that while Kennedy and O'Connor did not join Rehnquist's Article II concurrence, they did not explicitly oppose it either, and thus kept the door open to nullifying a future ruling of the Florida Supreme Court on Article II grounds. Abramowicz and Stearns also argue that if the Bush v. Gore decision genuinely allowed the Florida Supreme Court to clarify or reinterpret Florida state law and thus to order a new manual recount, then Souter and Breyer likely would have joined the opinion—which they did not. Laurence Tribe has a similar view on this issue, arguing that "[e]ven assuming the leeway [in regard to the remedy] the Court theoretically left open was real, the window it had failed to slam shut was hardly the sort of opening through which anyone would dare to crawl."
Limitation "to present circumstances"
Some critics of the decision argue that the majority seemed to seek refuge from their own logic in the following sentence in the majority opinion: "Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities." The Court's defenders argued that this was a reasonable precaution against the possibility that the decision might be read too broadly, arguing that in the short time available it would be inappropriate to attempt to craft language spelling out in greater detail how to apply the holding to other cases. But critics interpreted the sentence as stating that the case did not set precedent in any way and could not be used to justify any future court decision, and some suggested that this was evidence the majority realized its holding was untenable. Regardless of whether the majority intended the decision to be precedential, several federal courts have cited it in election cases, as did a lawyer for a Republican congressional candidate during legal arguments coincident with the 2020 United States presidential election.
Accusation of partisanship or conflict of interest
According to legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, "Bush v. Gore broke David Souter's heart. The day the music died, he called it. It was so political, so transparently political, that it scarred Souter's belief in the Supreme Court as an institution" (italics in original).
[T]he decision in the Florida election case may be ranked as the single most corrupt decision in Supreme Court history, because it is the only one that I know of where the majority justices decided as they did because of the personal identity and political affiliation of the litigants. This was cheating, and a violation of the judicial oath.
[T]hat claim ... is inconsistent with the position of three of the Florida justices who dissented. No Justice on the Florida Supreme Court was a Republican appointee, but three of them concluded that the recount that Vice President Gore wanted was unconstitutional. Three of the seven Florida Supreme Court justices also found an Equal Protection violation when the manual ballot-counters used different procedures to examine identical ballots and count them differently.
There has also been analysis of whether several justices had a conflict of interest that should have forced them to recuse themselves from the decision. On several occasions, Rehnquist had expressed interest in retiring under a Republican administration; one study found that press reports "are equivocal on whether facts existed that would have created a conflict of interest" for him. At an election night party, O'Connor became upset when it was reported that Gore had won Florida, her husband explaining that they would have to wait another four years before retiring to Arizona. Both justices remained on the Court until Bush's second term, with Rehnquist dying in 2005 and O'Connor retiring in 2006. According to Steven Foster of the Manchester Grammar School:
Clarence Thomas's wife was so intimately involved in the Bush campaign that she was helping to draw up a list of Bush appointees more or less at the same time as her husband was adjudicating on whether the same man would become the next President. Finally, Antonin Scalia's son was working for the firm appointed by Bush to argue his case before the Supreme Court, the head of which was subsequently appointed as Solicitor-General.
The day after Thanksgiving, when the conservative justices agreed to hear Bush's appeal in the case of Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board (excluding Bush's equal protection claim), the opposing justices were convinced that the majority intended to reverse the Florida Supreme Court and shut down the recount. They began drafting a dissent before this case was argued before them, a dissent that was temporarily shelved upon the Court's unanimous remand to the Florida court.
The liberal law clerks noted that Scalia later had begun campaigning for the stay of the Florida court's December 8 recount order before the Court had received Gore's response to Bush's request, and was so incensed at Stevens's dissent in the matter of the stay and grant of certiorari that he requested the release of opinions be delayed so that he could amend his opinion to include a response to Stevens. Kennedy is also reported to have sent out a memo accusing the dissenters of "trashing the court". Later, court personnel, as well as Ron Klain, speculated that there was an unspoken understanding that the judges on the winning side would not retire until after the next election, as a way of preserving some sense of fairness. No justices retired during President Bush's first term.
It has been argued that none of the justices voted in a way that was consistent with their prior jurisprudence, though George Mason University law professor Nelson Lund has challenged this conclusion, arguing that, unlike in suspect classification cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has never actually required a showing of intentional discrimination in fundamental rights cases, such as Bush v. Gore. The five conservative justices decided to involve the federal judiciary in a matter that could have been left to the states, while also expanding previous U.S. Supreme Court interpretations of the Equal Protection Clause. Meanwhile, the liberal justices all supported leaving the matter in the hands of a state and also sometimes advocated in favor of a narrower reading of existing Equal Protection Clause precedents. This bolstered the perception that the justices used their desired result to drive their reasoning. David Cole of Georgetown Law argued that, as a way of trying to rehabilitate the court's image after Bush v. Gore, the Court became more likely to reach a liberal decision in the four years after Bush v. Gore than it had been before the case, and that the conservative justices were more likely to join the liberals rather than the other way around.
Recount by media organizations
In 2001, the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, sponsored by a consortium of major United States news organizations, conducted the Florida Ballot Project, a comprehensive review of 175,010 ballots that vote-counting machines had rejected from the entire state, not just the counties that conducted manual recounts. The project's goal was to determine the reliability and accuracy of the systems used in the voting process, including how different systems correlated with voter mistakes. The study was conducted over a period of 10 months. Based on the review, the media group concluded that if the disputes over the validity of all the ballots in question had been consistently resolved and any uniform standard applied, the electoral result would have been reversed and Gore would have won by 60 to 171 votes. On the other hand, under scenarios involving review of limited sets of ballots uncounted by machines, Bush would have kept his lead. In one such scenario—Gore's request for recounts in four predominantly Democratic counties—Bush would have won by 225 votes.[a] In another scenario (if the remaining 64 Florida counties had carried out the hand recount of disputed ballots the Florida Supreme Court ordered on December 8, applying the various standards that county election officials said they would have used), Bush would have emerged the victor by 493 votes.[b]
The scenarios involving limited sets of ballots included the completed uncertified recount by Palm Beach County, which nevertheless had excluded a set-aside cache of dimpled ballots with clear indications of intent, an uncounted net gain of 682 votes for Gore.[c] In contrast, the scenarios involving all uncounted ballots statewide considered all votes from Palm Beach County, subjected to various standards of inclusion. The Washington Post qualified the tallies conducted by the NORC consortium with the statement: "But no study of this type can accurately recreate Election Day 2000 or predict what might have emerged from individual battles over more than 6 million votes in Florida's 67 counties."
Further analysis revealed that black-majority precincts had three times as many rejected ballots as white precincts. "For minorities, the ballot survey found, a recount would not have redressed the inequities because most ballots were beyond retrieving. But a recount could have restored the votes of thousands of older voters whose dimpled and double-voted ballots were indecipherable to machines but would have been clear in a ballot-by-ballot review."
- Specifically, Gore's request for recounts in four counties: applies the "prevailing standard" (at least one corner of chad detached on punch card undervotes; any affirmative mark on optical scan ballots, but with no overvotes) to remaining uncounted ballots in Miami-Dade; accepts uncertified hand counts from Palm Beach and 139 precincts in Miami-Dade and certified counts from other 65 counties.
- Specifically, Florida Supreme Court order as being implemented: accepts completed recounts in eight counties and certified counts from four counties that refused to recount; applies the "county custom standard" (what each individual county canvassing board considered a vote, in regard to both undervotes and overvotes) to remaining Miami-Dade and other 55 counties.
- Of these 4,842 excluded ballots, 4,513 had been set aside by the canvassing board for later inspection by a court (which never happened). All were among 10,310 undervotes in the county. The "set aside" ballots were dimpled ballots that were challenged by the two parties. A January 2001 review by the Palm Beach Post of those "set-aside" ballots determined that 4,318 were "unambiguous" valid votes.
Several articles have characterized the decision as damaging the reputation of the court, increasing the view of judges as partisan, and decreasing Americans' trust in the integrity of elections, an outcome Stevens predicted in his dissent. Part of the reason recounts could not be completed was the various stoppages ordered by the various branches and levels of the judiciary, most notably the Supreme Court. Opponents argued that it was improper for the Court (by the same five justices who joined the per curiam opinion) to grant a stay that preliminarily stopped the recounts based on Bush's likelihood of success on the merits and possible irreparable injury to Bush. Although stay orders normally do not include justification, Scalia concurred to express some brief reasoning to justify it, saying that one potential irreparable harm was that an invalid recount might undermine the legitimacy of Bush's election (presumably if, for example, it were to find that Gore should have won). Supporters of the stay, such as Charles Fried, contend that the stay's validity was vindicated by the ultimate decision on the merits and that the only thing the stay prevented was a recount "done in an unconstitutional way".
Some critics argued that the Court's decision was a perversion of the Equal Protection Clause and contrary to the political question doctrine. Scott Lemieux of University of Washington points out that if recounting votes without a uniform statewide standard were truly a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, this should have meant that the initial count, which also lacked a uniform standard, was itself unconstitutional. On the other hand, Geoffrey R. Stone has expressed sympathy with the Court's equal protection reasoning, even though Stone was dismayed by what he saw as the sudden and suspect conversion of Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas to that equal protection principle. According to Stone:
No one familiar with the jurisprudence of Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas could possibly have imagined that they would vote to invalidate the Florida recount process on the basis of their own well-developed and oft-invoked approach to the Equal Protection Clause.
Stevens's criticism of the Court in his dissent for questioning the impartiality of Florida's judiciary was itself criticized by Lund, a former law clerk for O'Connor. Professor Charles Zelden faults the per curiam opinion in the case for, among other things, not declaring that the nation's electoral system required significant reform, and for not condemning administration of elections by part-time boards of elections dominated by partisan and unprofessional officials. Zelden concludes that the Court's failure to spotlight this critical flaw in American electoral democracy made a replay of Bush v. Gore more likely, not less likely, either in Florida or elsewhere. In 2013, O'Connor, who had voted with the majority, said that the case "gave the court a less-than-perfect reputation". She added, "Maybe the court should have said, 'We're not going to take it, goodbye.' ... And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day."
A Vanity Fair article quotes several of the court's clerks at the time who were critical of the decision. They note that, despite the per curiam opinion's declaration that the case was taken "reluctantly", Kennedy had been rather enthusiastic about taking the case all along. They felt at the time, as had many legal scholars, that the case was unlikely to go to the Supreme Court at all. In fact some of the justices were so certain that the case would never come before them that they had already left for vacations.
Editorials in the country's leading newspapers were overwhelmingly critical of the decision. A review by The Georgetown Law Journal found that the nation's top newspapers, by circulation, had published 18 editorials criticizing the decision and six praising it. They similarly published 26 op-eds criticizing the decision and eight defending it. Polls showed a range of reactions, with 37–65% of respondents believing that personal politics influenced the justices' decisions, depending on the poll. A Princeton Survey poll recorded 46% of respondents saying that the decision made them more likely to suspect partisan bias in judges in general. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 53% of respondents believed that the decision to stop the recount was based mostly on politics. A 2010 Slate article listed the case as the first in a series of events that eroded American trust in the results of elections, noting that the number of lawsuits brought over election issues has more than doubled since Bush v. Gore.
- List of United States presidential elections by Electoral College margin
- Electoral Commission (United States)
- Supreme Injustice, a 2001 book by Alan Dershowitz
- Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election, a 2002 documentary
- Recount, a 2008 HBO movie about the 2000 presidential election and Bush v. Gore
- Post-election lawsuits related to the 2020 United States presidential election
- 2000 United States presidential election in popular culture
- Margolick, David (October 2004). "The Path to Florida". Vanity Fair. Condé Nast.
- "Search – Supreme Court of the United States". www.supremecourt.gov.
- "Florida Ballots Project". National Opinion Research Center. Archived from the original on December 17, 2001. Retrieved May 28, 2010.
- deHaven-Smith, Lance, ed. (2005). The Battle for Florida: An Annotated Compendium of Materials from the 2000 Presidential Election. Gainesville, Florida, United States: University Press of Florida. pp. 15, 37–41.
- "Data Files – NORC Files, Media Group Files". 2000 Florida Ballots Project. American National Election Studies. Archived from the original on May 9, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
- "McPherson v Blacker". McPherson et al v Blacker. Cornell Law School. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
- Palm Beach County Canvassing Bd. v. Harris, 772 So.2d 1220 (November 21, 2000). Late-filing criteria are at note 5. See The American Presidency Project for other documents related to the 2000 election dispute.
- See Fla. Stat. § 102.141(4). "The 2000 Florida Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 102, Section 141". Archived from the original on April 1, 2005. (This archived version of the Florida statute is dated July 2, 2001, and is from Archive.org.)
- "Election 2000 Timeline". PG Publishing Co., Inc. December 17, 2000. Retrieved October 28, 2006.
- Toobin, Jeffrey. "Too Close to Call". Random House, 2002, p. 66.
- See Fla. Stat. § 102.166. "The 2000 Florida Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 102, Section 166". Archived from the original on April 1, 2005. (This archived version of the Florida statute is dated July 2, 2001, and is from Archive.org.)
- See Fla. Stat. § 102.112. "The 2000 Florida Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 102, Section 112". Archived from the original on April 21, 2001. (This archived version of the Florida statute is dated April 21, 2001, and is from Archive.org.)
- "Leon County Judge Rules on Certification" (PDF). Retrieved October 28, 2006.
- "Text: Florida Recount Results". Retrieved October 28, 2006.
- For example, the concurring opinion in Bush v. Gore cited the December 6, 2000, decision in Touchston v. McDermott, 234 F.3d 1130 Archived December 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine (11th Cir. 2000).
- "Supreme Court of Florida No. SC00-2431 Gore v. Harris 772 S2d 1243". Findlaw. December 8, 2000. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
- Bush v. Gore on Application for Stay.
- Balkin, Jack M. (2001). "Bush v. Gore and the Boundary between Law and Politics". The Yale Law Journal. 110 (8): 1407–1458. doi:10.2307/797581. ISSN 0044-0094. JSTOR 797581.
- Transcript and audio of oral arguments in Bush v. Gore, via Oyez.org. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- Palm Beach County Canvassing Board v. Harris, 772 S2d 1273 Archived June 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine (Fla December 11, 2000).
- Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board, 531 U.S. 70 (2000)
- Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 103 (2000) ("The petition presents the following questions: whether the Florida Supreme Court established new standards for resolving Presidential election contests, thereby violating Art. II, § 1, cl. 2, of the United States Constitution and failing to comply with 3 U. S. C. § 5, and whether the use of standardless manual recounts violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses.")
- Gillman, Howard (July 5, 2003). The Votes That Counted: How the Court Decided the 2000 Presidential Election. University of Chicago Press. p. 82. ISBN 9780226294087.
- "US CODE: Title 3,5. Determination of controversy as to appointment of electors". The quote is the title of Section 5, Title 3.
- "3 U.S. Code § 5 – Determination of controversy as to appointment of electors". LII / Legal Information Institute.
- "Scalia and Stevens clash over recount stay in Bush v. Gore". CNN. December 11, 2000. Archived from the original on May 8, 2009. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
- "Bush v. Gore, Brief for Petitioners" (PDF). "The Equal Protection Clause prohibits government officials from implementing an electoral system that gives the votes of similarly situated voters different effect based on the happenstance of the county or district in which those voters live." Paragraph 2 in Argument, Part III-A.
- "Bush v. Gore, Brief of Respondent" (PDF). "The court below was quite insistent that the counting of ballots must be governed by a single uniform standard: the intent of the voter must control." Paragraph 3 in Argument, Part III-A.
- Id. "... if petitioners mean to say that all votes must be tabulated under a fixed and mechanical standard (e.g., the "two-corner chad rule"), their approach would render unconstitutional the laws of States that hinge the meaning of the ballot on the intent of the voter ..." Paragraph 3 in Argument, Part III-A.
- "Bush v. Gore, Brief of Respondent" (PDF). "[T]he appropriate remedy for either an Equal Protection Clause or Due Process Clause violation would not be to cancel all recounts, but rather to order that the recounts be undertaken under a uniform standard." Footnote 28.
- "Bush v. Gore, Brief for Petitioners" (PDF). "By rewriting that statutory scheme—thus arrogating to itself the power to decide the manner in which Florida's electors are chosen—the Florida Supreme Court substituted its judgment for that of the legislature in violation of Article II. Such a usurpation of constitutionally delegated power defies the Framers' plan." Paragraph 2 in Argument, Part I.
- "Bush v. Gore, Brief of Respondent" (PDF). "Even apart from the absurd theory that McPherson requires everything relevant to a state's process for choosing electors to be packed into a specialized presidential electoral code, the very premise of petitioner's argument is fatally flawed because the Florida Legislature re-enacted the contest statute in 1999 against the settled background rule that decisions of circuit courts in contest actions are subject to appellate review." Paragraph 5 in Argument, Part I.
- "Bush v. Gore". Oyez Project. Retrieved January 22, 2011. "Noting that the Equal Protection clause guarantees individuals that their ballots cannot be devalued by 'later arbitrary and disparate treatment,' the per curiam opinion held that the Florida Supreme Court's scheme for recounting ballots was unconstitutional."
- Lund, Nelson Robert (March 2002). "The Unbearable Rightness of Bush v. Gore". Cardozo Law Review. George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 01-17. 23 (4): 1242. doi:10.2139/ssrn.267874. SSRN 267874.
- Nelson Lund in this 2002 article suggests that one type of ballot being referred to here could have "both a clean [machine readable] hole for one candidate and a dimpled or indented chad for another candidate[,]" which, according to Lund, were quite common. Lund cites the Gore v. Harris trial testimony of Judge Charles Burton (Palm Beach County elections official), who explained that for "one of the patterns that we saw quite frequently", a clear punch and a nearby dimple, the canvassing board "conclude[d] that the clear intent of the voter" was a vote for the candidate that "they actually punched out, ... a fully punched chad demonstrated that that was their intent."
- See Trial Transcript, Gore v. Harris, No. 00-2808 (Leon Cty. Jud. Cir. Dec. 2, 2000), at 262–264 (testimony of Judge Charles Burton) [transcript available at https://web.archive.org/web/20020118072636/http://election2000.stanford.edu/].
- Friedman, Richard D. (2001). "Trying to Make Peace with Bush v. Gore (Symposium: Bush v. Gore Issue)". Florida State University Law Review. 29 (2): 825.
[T]here may have been some voters whose ballots were improperly counted because they punched two holes but the machine only read one, and those ballots would not be recounted. Well, perhaps, but there could not have been very many of these ballots, and to discover them would require reviewing every punch-card ballot in the state; neither candidate was complaining about these, and neither was asking for a full recount. The Florida Supreme Court should have been entitled to restrict the recount to categories of ballots that appeared most likely to present problems. (cite omitted)
- "BUSH v. GORE".
- "BUSH v. GORE".
- "Bush v. Gore". Legal Information Institute. December 12, 2000. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- "BUSH v. GORE".
- Greenhouse, Linda (February 20, 2001). "Bush v Gore: a special report". The New York Times. p. A1.
- Justices Breyer and Souter stated:
It is true that the Equal Protection Clause does not forbid the use of a variety of voting mechanisms within a jurisdiction, even though different mechanisms will have different levels of effectiveness in recording voters' intentions; local variety can be justified by concerns about cost, the potential value of innovation, and so on. But evidence in the record here suggests that a different order of disparity obtains under rules for determining a voter's intent that have been applied (and could continue to be applied) to identical types of ballots used in identical brands of machines and exhibiting identical physical characteristics (such as "hanging" or "dimpled" chads).
- "Bush v. Gore, US Supreme Court Opinion". Id. 5th paragraph in Part I.
- Gershman, Bennet L. (February 18, 2016). "Justice Scalia's Faux Originalism". HuffPost. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
- Toobin, Jeffrey (2007). The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court , pp. 184, (Doubleday, New York, NY).
- "BUSH v. GORE".
- Drehle, David Von; Nakashima, Ellen (March 8, 2001). Deadlock the Inside Story of America's Closest Election. Washington Post Company. pp. 230–234. ISBN 9781586480806.
- Von, David (February 3, 2001). "Anxious Moments In the Final Stretch". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
- Gore v. Harris, 773 So. 2d 524 Archived June 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine (December 22, 2000). Only Florida Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw, in a concurring opinion, disputed that December 12 was the deadline for recounts under state law. Justice Shaw had joined the dissenting opinion in Gore v. Harris before the ruling in Bush v. Gore.
- "BUSH v. GORE concurrence".
- Cole, David (2006). "The Liberal Legacy of Bush v. Gore". Georgetown University Law Center.
- Sunstein, Cass R.; Epstein, Richard A. (October 2001). The Vote: Bush, Gore, and the Supreme Court. University of Chicago Press. pp. 118–119. ISBN 9780226213071.
- "Bush's Team: The First Choices". The New York Times. January 23, 1989. p. A00020.
- Lund, Nelson. "The Unbearable Rightness of Bush v. Gore" in The Longest Night: Polemics and Perspectives on Election 2000, page 176 (University of California Press, Arthur Jacobson and Michel Rosenfeld, eds. 2002).
- Berkowitz, Peter and Wittes, Benjamin. "The Lawfulness of the Election Decision: A Reply to Professor Tribe", Villanova Law Review, Vol. 49, No. 3, 2004.
- Greene, Abner. "Is There a First Amendment Defense for Bush v. Gore?", 80 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1643 (2005). Greene points to footnotes 21 and 22 in Gore v. Harris, 772 S2d 1243 (December 8, 2000), as evidence that the Florida Supreme Court thought all recounts had to be completed by December 12, 2008.
- Weinberg, Louise.  Archived September 17, 2004, at the Wayback Machine in When Courts Decide Elections: The Constitutionality of Bush v. Gore, 82 Boston University Law Review 609 (2002), p. 33.
In Bush v. Gore, on the contrary, the Court actively prevented the completion of a halted state recount, never having ruled on the merits either of the challenge or the election and never having adjudicated the validity of Bush's certification or Gore's request for a recount. Instead, the Court selected the next President of the United States in the absence of a completed election—the ultimate political act. A meaningful remand in Bush v. Gore, or completing the election under the Court's own supervision, would have preserved the Constitution from this assault.
- Lund, Nelson (April 26, 2001). "The Unbearable Rightness of Bush v. Gore". Cardozo Law Review. 23 (4): 1221. SSRN 267874.
- Lund, Nelson. "A Very Streamlined Introduction to Bush v. Gore" (PDF). George Mason University School of Law. Retrieved August 2, 2023.
- Michael Abramowicz and, Maxwell L. Stearns (October 2001). "Beyond Counting Votes: The Political Economy of Bush v. Gore". Vanderbilt Law Review. Retrieved August 2, 2023.
- Tribe, Laurence H. (2002). "Lost at the Equal Protection Carnival: Nelson Lund's Carnival of Mirrors" (PDF). Constitutional Commentary. 19: 619. hdl:11299/169401.
- Fliter, John. "Review of The Rehnquist Court: Judicial Activism on the Right". Archived from the original on May 16, 2006.
- Charles L. Zelden, Bush v. Gore: Exposing the Hidden Crisis of American Democracy (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2008) ISBN 0-7006-1593-8.
- "Bush v. Gore, US Supreme Court Opinion". (6th paragraph from end of Part II-B).
- Lund, Nelson. "The Unbearable Rightness of Bush v. Gore" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 17, 2005.
... it's important to remember that overly broad holdings can be worse than those that are too narrow. Broad holdings may effectively decide future cases that are factually dissimilar in ways that should be legally distinguished.
- Spillenger, Clyde. "Supreme court fails to argue recount ruling". UCLA Today. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved October 28, 2006.
This observation is the very antithesis of the rule of law.
- Lemons v. Bradbury, 538 F.3d 1098 (9th Cir. 2008).
- Stewart v. Blackwell, 444 F.3d 843 (6th Cir. 2006).
- Bennett v. Mollis, 590 F. Supp. 2d 273 (D.R.I. 2008).
- State ex rel. Skaggs v. Brunner, 588 F. Supp. 2d 828 (S.D. Ohio 2008).
- ACLU v. Santillanes, 506 F. Supp. 2d 598 (D.N.M. 2007).
- "GOP effort to block 'cured' Pennsylvania ballots gets chilly reception from judge". POLITICO. November 4, 2020.
- Toobin, Jeffrey (2012). The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court. Doubleday. p. 123.
- Dershowitz, Alan (2001). Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000. Oxford University Press. pp. 174, 198.
- Rotunda, Ronald (2003). "Yet Another Article on Bush v. Gore" (PDF). Ohio State Law Journal. 64: 283.
- Neumann, Richard K. Jr. (Spring 2003). "Conflicts of interest in Bush v. Gore: Did some justices vote illegally?". Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics. 16: 375.
- Foster, Steven (2006). The Judiciary, Civil Liberties and Human Rights. Edinburgh University Press. p. 80. ISBN 0-7486-2262-4.
- Lund, Nelson (2009). "Bush v. Gore at the Dawning of the Age of Obama" (PDF). Florida Law Review. 61: 1001–1010.
- Fessenden, Ford; Broder, John M. (November 12, 2001). "Examining the Vote: the Overview". The New York Times.
- Engelhardt, Joel; McCabe, Scott; Stapleton, Christine (January 27, 2001). "Disputed Palm Beach ballots held potential gains for Gore". Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, Florida, United States. p. 1A.
- Keating, Dan; Balz, Dan (November 12, 2001). "Florida Recounts Would Have Favored Bush". The Washington Post.
- Fessenden, Ford. "Ballots Cast by Blacks and Older Voters Were Tossed in Far Greater Numbers", The New York Times (November 12, 2001).
- "Why Roberts did it". Chicago Tribune. July 2, 2012. Archived from the original on July 3, 2019.
- Balkin, Jack M. (June 2001). "Bush v. Gore and the Boundary Between Law and Politics". Yale Law Journal. 110 (8): 1407–1458. doi:10.2307/797581. JSTOR 797581.
- "The legacy of Bush v. Gore". December 9, 2010.
- Hasen, Richard L. (December 3, 2010). "The real legacy of Bush v. Gore". Slate.
- "Just How Bad Was Bush v. Gore?". The Atlantic. November 29, 2010.
- "Bush v. Gore, On Application for Stay" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 14, 2016. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
- Raskin, Jamin (March 2001). "Bandits in Black Robes". Washington Monthly. Archived from the original on October 19, 2006. Retrieved October 28, 2006.
But in Bush v. Gore, the Rehnquist majority did not even ask, much less explain, how Bush was personally injured by the hypothetical possibility that anonymous third-party citizens might have their ballots counted differently in Florida's presidential election.
- Fried, Charles. "An Unreasonable Reaction to a Reasonable Decision" in Bush V. Gore: The Question of Legitimacy, page 12 (Yale University Press, Bruce Ackerman ed. 2002): "The outrage against the stay by 673 law professors is, to say the least, overwrought. If the decision on the merits was justified, the stay becomes irrelevant. Yes, it did shut down the counting three and a half days earlier, but by hypothesis that counting was being done in an unconstitutional way."
- Tribe, Laurence H., "The Unbearable Wrongness of Bush v. Gore". George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 03-33; Harvard Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 72. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=431080
- Stone, Geoffrey R. (2001). "Equal Protection? The Supreme Court's Decision in Bush v. Gore".
- The dissent by Justice Stevens in Bush v. Gore stated, "What must underlie petitioners' entire federal assault on the Florida election procedures is an unstated lack of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed. Otherwise, their position is wholly without merit. The endorsement of that position by the majority of this Court can only lend credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land. It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law. Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today's decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law."
- Glanton, Dahleen (April 27, 2013). "O'Connor questions court's decision to take Bush v. Gore". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on May 4, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- Works related to Bush v. Gore at Wikisource
- Text of Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000) is available from: Cornell Google Scholar Justia Library of Congress Oyez (oral argument audio)
- After Bush v. Gore by Retro Report
- Tony Sutin: Presidential Election Law
- Peter Berkowitz & Benjamin Wittes: "The Lawfulness of the Election Decision"
- Vincent Bugliosi (January 18, 2001). "None Dare Call It Treason". The Nation.
- Adam Cohen: "Has Bush v. Gore Become the Case That Must Not Be Named?", Editorial Observer, The New York Times, August 15, 2006.
- Text and audio of U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments – Bush v. Gore
- Video highlight of Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Wells opening Gore v. Harris argument on November 20, 2000
- Video highlights of November 20, 2000, and December 7, 2000, oral arguments in Gore v. Harris in front of Florida Supreme Court