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“Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.” – Sandra Day O’Connor

THE LEGACY of George W. Bush extends to Justice Rehnquist’s willingness to play politics with the Supreme Court, which Sandra Day O’Connor joined when she decided to be the fifth vote in Bush v. Gore. The vote Sandra Day O’Connor cast was as political as the Court had already become under Rehnquist.

From the Chicago Tribune, Sandra Day O’Connor comes clean:

It was Bush v. Gore, which ended the Florida recount and decided the 2000 presidential election.

Looking back, O’Connor said, she isn’t sure the high court should have taken the case.

“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.”

The Supreme Court should never have taken the case. The U.S. Constitution is set up for handling these things, which would likely have meant a Bush presidency anyway, but at least it would have been an outcome with roots in a founding document.

The reason Sandra Day O’Connor has come to this conclusion is that she ruined her reputation by siding with the slim majority and will never get it back, but now she’ll have her mea culpa on the record. She’s embarrassed about what she did, which is as it should be.

Sandra Day O’Connor was an important figure in feminist history up until she played politics with the presidency, instead of letting the constitution be her guide.

The only good thing to come of Bush v. Gore was that those Americans willing to pay attention finally realized just how radicalized on behalf of the right the Rehnquist court had always been.