In an example of "too little too late" unlikely to be trumped anytime soon, Sandra Day O'Connor, the crucial vote in the Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore decision, said only 13 years too late for it to matter, that maybe the Court shouldn't have taken that case.
Sandra Day O'Connor and her husband pose with George W. Bush, who O'Connor likely cast the deciding vote to make Bush president. PHOTO: Public domain.
In an example of "too little too late" unlikely to be trumped anytime soon, Sandra Day O'Connor, the crucial vote in the Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore decision, said only 13 years too late for it to matter, that maybe the Court shouldn't have taken that case:
"It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue," O'Connor
told the Chicago Tribune
. "Maybe the court should have said, 'We're not going to take it, goodbye.'"
Here's what you probably know about Bush v. Gore: the 2000 election between George W. Bush and the favored Al Gore came down to a few hundred votes in Florida (despite Gore winning the popular vote by more than one million votes). Gore was originally declared the winner, then, in a nearly unprecedented reversal, the networks went back on their word and declared Bush the winner, and then, in the wee hours of election night, 2000, Florida was declared too close to call. Both sides lawyers went to work, as did the board of elections in Florida, which began a recount. Eventually the Supreme Court stepped in, deliberated for a few days, voted 5-4 in favor of the Bush side, and Bush was elected president.
Here's what you might not know: what Bush v. Gore was actually about. Gore's team had successfully appealed to the Florida Supreme Court to hold a recount of the ballots in Florida. Given the closeness of the election, that the name of the next president depended on it, and that a number of irregularities in the ballots had been detected, a recount seemed, not just a good idea, but an obvious idea.
Unless you were the conservative justices on the Supreme Court who actively sought to take a case to stop the recount. That's what Bush v. Gore was about: whether or not the recount should continue.
"Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision," O'Connor recalled. "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."
The painful thing about that quote is that EVERYONE knew "the election authorities in Florida hadn't done a real good job," at the time. Gruesome details came out in the following months, but the basic picture was clear to the entire country in between election night and the Bush v. Gore decision.
(All of this is leaving out the election-rigging shenanigans on the GOP side. Many black voters were told the wrong day for the election and/or that they could vote for Al Gore as president and Pat Buchanan's running mate, an African American woman, as Vice-President.)
Studies have shown that a full recount likely would have delivered the presidency to Al Gore. Sandra Day O'Connor's single vote decided the presidency. Now, at 83, 13 years too late, she has finally said she would like a do-over.
We would too, Sandra, we would too.