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    Bush v. Gore

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    Supreme Court of the United States

    Argued December 11, 2000

    Decided December 12, 2000

    Full case name Docket no. 00-949

    Citations 531 U.S. 98 ()

    121 S. Ct. 525; 148 L. Ed. 2d 388; 2000 U.S. LEXIS 8430; 69 U.S.L.W. 4029; 2000 Cal. Daily Op. Service 9879; 2000 Colo. J. C.A.R. 6606; 14 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 26

    Argument Oral argument

    Decision Opinion Case history

    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. , 772 So. 2d 1273 (2000); 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.

    Court membership Chief Justice William Rehnquist Associate Justices

    John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor

    Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy

    David Souter · Clarence Thomas

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg · Stephen Breyer

    Case opinions

    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)

    Laws applied

    U.S. Const. art. II, amend. XIV; 3 U.S.C. § 5

    , 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.[1] On December 9, the five conservative justices on the Court granted the stay for Bush, 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."[1] Oral arguments were scheduled for December 11.

    In a decision, the Court first ruled 7–2 (Justices Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissenting), strictly on equal protection grounds, that the recount be stopped. Specifically, 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 the basis of Article II jurisdictional grounds, which found favor with only Justices Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and William Rehnquist. Second, the Court ruled 5–4 against the remedy, proposed by Justices Stephen Breyer and David Souter, of sending 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.[1] 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.[2] That deadline arrived two hours after the release of the Court's decision. The Court, stating that not meeting the "safe harbor" deadline would therefore violate the Florida Election Code, rejected an extension of the deadline.

    The Supreme Court decision allowed the previous vote certification made by Florida Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, to stand for Bush, who thereby won Florida's 25 electoral votes. Florida's votes gave Bush, the Republican candidate, 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 revealed a Gore victory. Florida later retired the punch card voting machines that produced the ballots disputed in the case.[3][4][5]


    1 Background

    2 Stay of the Florida recount

    3 Rapid developments

    4 Relevant law

    5 Issues considered by the Court

    5.1 Equal Protection Clause

    5.2 Article II 6 Decision

    6.1 Equal Protection Clause

    6.1.1 Remedy 6.2 Article II

    7 Scholarly analyses

    7.1 The critical remedial issue

    7.2 Limitation to present circumstances

    7.3 Accusation of partisanship or conflict of interest

    7.4 Recount by media organizations

    7.5 Critiques 8 Public reaction 9 See also

    Source : en.wikipedia.org

    Bush v. Gore

    Bush v. Gore, legal case, decided on December 12, 2000, in which the Supreme Court of the United States reversed an order by the Florida Supreme Court for a selective manual recount of that state’s U.S. presidential election ballots. The 5–4 per curiam (unsigned) decision effectively awarded Florida’s 25 Electoral College votes to Republican candidate George W. Bush, thereby ensuring his victory over Democratic candidate Al Gore. On the evening of election day—November 7, 2000—a clear winner of the presidential election had yet to emerge. Print and broadcast media cited often contradictory exit-polling numbers, and the races in Oregon and

    Bush v. Gore

    law case

    By The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica • Edit History

    U.S. presidential election of 2000

    See all media

    Date: December 12, 2000

    Location: United States

    Date Argued: December 11, 2000

    See all related content →

    Top Questions

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    Bush v. Gore, legal case, decided on December 12, 2000, in which the Supreme Court of the United States reversed an order by the Florida Supreme Court for a selective manual recount of that state’s U.S. presidential election ballots. The 5–4 per curiam (unsigned) decision effectively awarded Florida’s 25 Electoral College votes to Republican candidate George W. Bush, thereby ensuring his victory over Democratic candidate Al Gore.


    On the evening of election day—November 7, 2000—a clear winner of the presidential election had yet to emerge. Print and broadcast media cited often contradictory exit-polling numbers, and the races in Oregon and New Mexico would remain too close to call for some days. Ultimately, the contest focused on Florida. Networks initially projected Gore the winner in that state but later declared that Bush had opened an insurmountable lead. Gore called Bush to concede the election, but in the early hours of the following morning it became apparent that the Florida race was much closer than Gore’s staff had originally believed. Fewer than 600 votes separated the candidates, and that margin appeared to be narrowing. At about 3:00 AM Gore called a stunned Bush to retract his concession.

    Under Florida election law, a machine recount of all votes cast was required because the margin of victory was less than 0.5 percent. In this race, the gap appeared to be roughly 0.01 percent. Both campaigns immediately dispatched teams of lawyers to Florida. Charges of conflict of interest were leveled by both sides—Bush’s brother Jeb was the governor of the state and Secretary of State Katherine Harris was cochair of Bush’s Florida campaign, while Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth headed the Gore campaign. By November 10 the machine recount was complete, and Bush’s lead stood at 327 votes out of six million cast. As court challenges were issued over the legality of hand recounts in select counties, news stories were filled with the arcane vocabulary of the election judge. County officials tried to discern voter intent through a cloud of “hanging chads” (incompletely punched paper ballots) and “pregnant chads” (paper ballots that were dimpled, but not pierced, during the voting process), as well as “overvotes” (ballots that recorded multiple votes for the same office) and “undervotes” (ballots that recorded no vote for a given office). Also at issue was the so-called butterfly ballot design used in Palm Beach county, which caused confusion among some residents who had intended to vote for Gore—leading them to inadvertently cast some 3,400 votes for an ultraconservative third-party candidate, Pat Buchanan, which amounted to about 20 percent of his total votes statewide.

    sample “butterfly ballot” from Florida, 2000

    Sample ballot from Palm Beach county, Florida, for the 2000 U.S. presidential election.

    A tug-of-war ensued between Harris, who initially sought to certify the state’s election results on November 14, and the Florida Supreme Court, which ruled that hand recounts of questionable ballots should proceed in four counties and that the results must be included in the state’s final count. In the month following the election, some 50 individual suits were filed concerning the various counts, recounts, and certification deadlines. On December 8, in a 4–3 decision, the Florida Supreme Court ordered immediate manual recounts of undervotes for the office of president in all counties where such recounts had not already taken place.

    The Bush campaign immediately petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of the recount order, which was granted on December 9. Treating the petition as a writ of certiorari (a formal request for review), the Court agreed to take up the case, Bush v. Gore.

    Source : www.britannica.com

    How the Supreme Court Decided the 2000 Election — and Why It Matters in 2020

    In the 2000 presidential election, a Supreme Court decision effectively ended disputes about the results. Here's what it means for Donald Trump and Joe Biden now.


    How the Supreme Court Decided the 2000 Election — And Why It Matters in 2020

    Here's how a SCOTUS ruling on a Florida recount made George Bush the winner of the 2000 election.



    With a presidential election looming, President Donald Trump is quickly ushering in a new Supreme Court nominee, and remarked that the high court could have a hand in deciding the election's outcome. Considering that possibility, the year 2000 — another presidential election year when the SCOTUS played a big role in the outcome — is of particular interest. Long before the coronavirus was making daily news, back when Trump was best known as a reality-TV host, the 2000 presidential election caused mass chaos when Florida’s electoral votes became too close to call, prompting lawsuits, challenges, recounts, and eventually a Supreme Court decision.

    Trump appears to understand this. He has stressed that we need a ninth Supreme Court justice installed ahead of the election in case the court has to decide the outcome, just like it did in 2000. After the president announced he was nominating Amy Coney Barrett to fill the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat at a now infamous Rose Garden ceremony, he said that he thinks the election “will end up in the Supreme Court” and that “it’s very important that we have nine justices.”

    But the path for a presidential election to end up before the Supreme Court is not an official process — it’s just a natural fact of the legal system.


    #AskAMuslimGirl: Muslim Girls’ Open Letter to Donald Trump

    "SCOTUS is not the court of first resort, and the vast majority of these cases ultimately get settled in state Supreme Courts,” Michael Binder, director of the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab, tells Teen Vogue. “Even in 2000, SCOTUS was just ruling on what the Florida Supreme Court had already said."

    Here’s what you need to know about how the 2000 election played out and why it matters now.

    What happened with the Supreme Court in the 2000 election?

    The 2000 presidential election between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush was painstakingly close, the New York Times reported — so close that counts and recounts dragged on for weeks after Election Day. Television stations trying to call the race bounced between the candidates, eventually admitting things were too close to call. At one point Gore gave his concession — and then retracted it. In total, 537 votes in Florida separated the two candidates, multiple outlets reported.

    The tensions around the Sunshine State’s vote tallies prompted a huge recount and lawsuits, including the aptly named Bush v. Gore. Eventually, the legal battle made it to the Florida Supreme Court, which ordered a recount of undervotes — ballots not counted because something is unclear — throughout the state. Bush appealed the recount, which moved the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. After some back and forth between the state and national Supreme Courts, the recount was deemed unconstitutional and the process was halted. In the pre-recount results, Bush had the lead, so he won.


    Despite the questions in Florida and the fact that he won the national popular vote, Gore conceded. Florida’s then 25 electoral college votes put Bush over the 270 he needed to win. At 266 electoral votes, Gore would’ve won if Florida had gone to him.

    In shutting down the undervote recount, SCOTUS’s ruling effectively decided the 2000 election for Bush, who went on to serve two terms.

    What role could SCOTUS play in the 2020 election?

    Trump’s first election already called to mind the 2000 election because he won the electoral college but not the popular vote. The COVID-19 pandemic’s major impacts on voting have prompted huge questions about the 2020 election, including whether or not we’ll even know the winner of the election on November 3. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death and Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination have raised serious questions about the court’s balance if she’s confirmed, and Trump has tipped his hand on anticipating SCOTUS involvement.

    “We’re going to have a victory on November 3, the likes of which you’ve never seen,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in September. “Now we’re counting on the federal court system to make it so that we can actually have an evening where we know who wins, not where the votes are going to be counted a week or two weeks later.”

    That indicates Trump may be anticipating lawsuits stemming from election results, a topic he’s frequently been cagey about. Throughout 2020, he has questioned the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, claiming they’re a higher risk for fraud, which isn’t true. He’s called them a “scam” and a “hoax,” and said, “So you’re going to need nine justices up there. I think it’s going to be very important. Because what they’re doing is a hoax with the ballots.” (Trump himself has cast mail-in ballots for years, even while simultaneously criticizing the process.) Trump could file suits regarding mail-in ballots or any other number of things.

    Source : www.teenvogue.com

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