O’Connor: Maybe Supreme Court shouldn’t have taken Bush v. Gore

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor suggested in a weekend interview  that the high court should have stayed out of the 2000 election.


Sandra Day O'Connor. (Troy Harvey / AP)

"Maybe the court should have said, 'We're not going to take it, goodbye,'" O'Connor told the Chicago Tribune editorial board, in reference to the controversial Bush v. Gore decision resolving a dispute over the 2000 election in George W. Bush's favor. "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."

It's not the first time O'Connor has expressed doubt about the 5-4 decision. In a 2010 interview, she said she didn't know if it was right. But, she added, she didn't worry about it because several recounts found that Bush would have won the state regardless. (Those recounts -- the one requested by Al Gore and the one ordered by the state Supreme Court -- were limited. Had Gore been able to trigger a statewide recount the result likely would have been different, a 2001 Post analysis found.) She has also linked declining public perception of the Supreme Court to that decision.

In an interview with NPR last month, Supreme Court reporter Jeffrey Toobin said that O'Connor regrets her vote, even if she will never say so.

"To know Justice O'Connor as I am privileged to do is to know that the word 'regret' never passes her lips," Toobin said. "Did she regret her vote in Bush v. Gore? Did she regret the Bush presidency? You bet she did, and you bet she does."

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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