December 12th 2000: Bush v. Gore

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Gore and Bush during the campaign

 

On this day in 2000, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in the landmark case of Bush v. Gore. The 2000 Presidential election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore was one of the closest in recent memory. Who would win the election by reaching 270 electoral votes came down to the state of Florida, which was incredibly tight between the two. It appeared that Bush had won, but disputes meant the state ordered a recount. The Supreme Court however, ruled this recount unconstitutional and thus handed the presidency to Bush, despite Gore leading in the popular vote.

 

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David Boies

 

The case was argued before the Court by Theodore Olson (for Bush) and David Boies (for Gore), who went on to unite to successfully argue for the unconstitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage. The collaboration of the counsels for arguably the most bitter, divisive and partisan case in recent American history for the cause of gay marriage serves as a reminder that marriage equality is not a partisan issue; it is a moral issue.

 

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Theodore Olson

 

Bush v. Gore remains controversial, with people citing it as a reason to abolish the Electoral College and as evidence of the partisan nature of the Supreme Court, as the justices were split 5-4 between the conservatives and liberals. The election was so close it initially brought into question the validity of Bush’s position as President, but this was confirmed with his victory over Democrat John Kerry in 2004. The Bush v. Gore decision can be the subject of interesting speculation. What would have happened if the recount went ahead? Would Gore have won Florida? If so,  how would President Gore have reacted to the 9/11 attacks which struck New York just a year later? Would he have pursued a ‘War on Terror’ like Bush which has no end in sight? Whilst these questions come to little and change nothing, they are nonetheless interesting.

What do you think? Where would we be if the presidency had gone to Gore?

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