The Cites That Counted: A Decade of Bush v. Gore Jurisprudence

Working Paper No.: 
Date Published: 
Charles Anthony Smith
University of California - Irvine


When the Supreme Court issued the opinion that resolved the 2000 presidential election in George W. Bush’s favor, the five justice coalition responsible for the decision went to great lengths to stress that the opinion should not be construed as an explication or expansion of any legal doctrine or concept. The per curium opinion, presumably authored by Chief Justice Rehnquist, specifically tried to narrow the applicability of the legal reasoning that resolved the equal protection claim by including the following passage:

The recount process, in its features here described, is inconsistent with the minimum procedures necessary to protect the fundamental right of each voter in the special instance of a statewide recount under the authority of a single state judicial officer. Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities (Bush v. Gore 531 US 98, 109 (2000)).