Can the Court Recover?

Its controversial decision ended the election tangle but brought the high court as low as it has been in years

In the end, it took the U.S. Supreme Court and its vast store of institutional prestige to end our 36-day national electoral nightmare. When people like Katherine Harris, the Florida legislature and House majority whip Tom DeLay talked about ending the recounts and declaring Bush the winner, they were widely attacked as mere political partisans. But when five Supreme Court Justices did very much the same thing, Al Gore started drafting his concession speech.

The court's decision--a tangle of six different majority, concurring and dissenting opinions--is now every bit as controversial as the election it resolved. To its defenders, the...

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