Magazine article New York Times Upfront

The Court That Picked a President

Magazine article New York Times Upfront

The Court That Picked a President

Article excerpt

Was the Supreme Court's majority right to end the Florida recount?


It had long ago become clear that Vice President Gore's efforts to capture the presidency depended on the flawed recounting scheme sanctioned by the Florida Supreme Court. And for all the talk about a "bitterly divided" U.S. Supreme Court, one simple fact bears repeating: Seven of the Court's nine Justices--including generally liberal Justices David Souter and Stephen Breyer--voted to reverse the Florida court's ruling. Only Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court's two arch-liberals, failed to perceive the violations of equal protection and due process.

As it happened, the U.S. Supreme Court obliterated the recounting plan on December 12, the very day that a federal statute required a "conclusive" selection of electors in order for Florida to take advantage of a provision that would prevent any challenge in Congress to the state's electoral slate. In a companion 5-4 decision, the Court had no recourse but to rule that given the time constraints, "it is evident that any recount seeking to meet the December 12 date will be unconstitutional."

If Florida's manual recount had been permitted to run its course, the nation would have faced a constitutional crisis once seven Justices later concluded such counting had been unconstitutional.

--Editorial The Washington Times


The 5-4 majority decided that different standards for recounting ballots in different Florida counties denied voters the equal protection of the law, and that there was no time to do a recount under a proper, single standard. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.