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Sandra Day O’Connor Says Supreme Court Maybe Should Have Stayed Out of Bush v. Gore

"Probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day."

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Getty Images

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has said for the first time that the high court should maybe have stayed out of the 2000 presidential election.

O'Connor -- seen as a crucial swing vote on the nine-member Supreme Court before her 2006 retirement -- sided with the 5-4 majority in Bush v. Gore to stop the Florida recount, effectively sealing the election for President George W. Bush.

But in an interview with the Chicago Tribune editorial board, more than 12 years after the case was decided, O'Connor said the court should perhaps have never gotten involved:

"It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue," O'Connor said during a talk Friday with the Tribune editorial board. "Maybe the court should have said, 'We're not going to take it, goodbye.'"

The case, she said, "stirred up the public" and "gave the court a less than perfect reputation."

"Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision," she said. "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."

O'Connor, 83, has previously called Bush v. Gore "a hard decision to make" and said it gave the court a "less-than-perfect reputation," but nevertheless always said it needed to be decided.

O'Connor became the first female Supreme Court justice after she was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. She was succeeded by Bush appointee Samuel Alito.



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