Did the Florida State Supreme Court act properly in its decision in the 2000 Presidential Election?Did the Florida State Supreme Court act properly in its decision in the 2000 Presidential Election?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If the question is aiming to determine if the Florida Supreme Court acted properly in advocating for the recount, I think that one needs to develop the standards that would determine "proper" acting.  In my mind, if the standard is to ensure that if votes are counted and the results can be certified with relative confidence, then I think that the court did the right thing in ordering the recount.  The state Supreme Court saw an issue where judicial guidance was needed and it offered it in continuing the recount process in specific counties where the margin of supposed victory was so small that a manual recount would provide validation.  I think that the more appropriate question would be an extension of this in assessing whether the Supreme Court did the right think by halting the recount.  If we read the majority and dissenting opinion, the question becomes whether the state Supreme Court's recount process and method provided "irreparable harm."  This might be a standard to apply in assessing whether the Florida State Supreme Court did the right thing in ordering the recount.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We will probably never know who truly would have won that election, since there were so many shenanigans on both sides.  But the decision in the Bush vs. Gore ruling was that the Florida recount itself was unconstitutional, and therefore should be stopped.  The vote was 5 - 4.  Where I differ with the court is that they effectively stole the legitimacy of the election, and with one vote, changed the entire course of American history.

I am not the Constitutional scholars the justices are, so I probably shouldn't second guess them so quickly.  But as the Citizens United case also shows, these are fallible judges, and what may seem constitutional is not always what's best for the country.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's a funny thing to try to second-guess the courts, especially the highest courts in the state or country.  I certainly feel free to have an opinion when a ruling is made; but in the end, it seems to me, the position must be that once a final decision is made by the highest courts in the land, it's right--perhaps not correct, but right.  This entire episode was a disaster of the highest order for both parties and especially for Florida. 

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to agree with #2 and point out that this was such a massive issue and we need to look deeper and wider before apportioning "blame", if there is any to apportion. It is the Supreme Court that we should be focussing on, rather than just the version in Florida.

rienzi | Student

No they didn't. First they extended the certification deadline contrary to state law in what was an obvious attempt to give the Gore campaign time to marshall so-called "uncounted" votes that with certification would give those questionable votes the certification stamp of approval. The problem then became the shortened contest period because of the Dec 12 safe harbor date. Gore petitioned in his contest of the election that the undervotes of 3 heavy dem. counties had not been counted. The Fl. Sup. Ct. then directed that all of Florida's undervotes should be hand re-counted. The US Sup. Ct. in a 7-2 vote found the selective recount unconstitutional saying that a hand recount of undervotes had to include overvotes as well, i.e., all uncounted votes. They also said that a hand recount had to establish and use uniform standards. That decision was issued on 12 Dec. As for remedy, 2 justices of the 7-2 per curiam agreed with 2 of the dissenters that the safe harbor date should be ignored since the electoral college didn't meet until Dec. 18. Those 4 justice felt the recount could be done inside the 6 days left. But, 5 justices pointed to the Fl. Sup. Cts. own decision that the 12 Dec. safe harbor date had to be met. Even though the high court remanded the case back to Fl. there was no time left for standards or a recount.