Monday, Dec. 13, 2010

Bush v. Gore

In Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court decided one of the closest presidential elections ever. With both former Texas governor George W. Bush and Vice President Albert Gore needing to win Florida to claim the presidency, polls closed with just 537 votes separating them. The closeness of the race merited a machine recount of ballots under Florida law. Due to highly-publicized controversy over whether the design of the ballots confused voters or whether machines would miscount incorrectly completed ballots, the Florida Supreme Court ordered manual recounts in several counties. But the U.S. Supreme Court immediately ordered these recounts halted the following day, declaring that counting certain ballots by different methods than others violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourth Amendment. The Court found that the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court was invalid, and that no alternative recount could be performed within the state's legal time limit. On 12 December 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the original Florida results would stand, effectively naming Bush the next President of the United States.

Date Decided: December 12, 2000

Chief Justice Presiding: William Rehnquist

Vote Split: 5-4.

Dissenting justices insisted that the constitutional need to protect each vote superseded the state's timeline for determining the results of an election. The dissenting minority advocated that, while the manual recount process was flawed, it should have been allowed to proceed.