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No, Bush v Gore didn’t decide the election

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

As part of the effort to delegitimize the Supreme Court so that Obama has something to run on in 2012, many liberals who should know better are repeating the canard that a Republican majority on the Court gave the 2000 election to George W. Bush.

James Fallows, in charging Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas with a “coup” described Bush v. Gore this way: “a presidential election is decided by five people, who don’t even try to explain their choice in normal legal terms.”

(And Michael Tomasky piles on “This is all factually true.”)

But it’s just not true. You can disagree with the ruling in Bush v. Gore, but you can’t honestly argue that it decided the election.

Even had Gore won the case, he would have lost the election. Don’t take my word for it. Here’s the New York Times from 2001:

A comprehensive review of the uncounted Florida ballots from last year’s presidential election reveals that George W. Bush would have won even if the United States Supreme Court had allowed the statewide manual recount of the votes that the Florida Supreme Court had ordered to go forward.

Contrary to what many partisans of former Vice President Al Gore have charged, the United States Supreme Court did not award an election to Mr. Bush that otherwise would have been won by Mr. Gore. A close examination of the ballots found that Mr. Bush would have retained a slender margin over Mr. Gore if the Florida court’s order to recount more than 43,000 ballots had not been reversed by the United States Supreme Court.

Even under the strategy that Mr. Gore pursued at the beginning of the Florida standoff — filing suit to force hand recounts in four predominantly Democratic counties — Mr. Bush would have kept his lead, according to the ballot review conducted for a consortium of news organizations.

But the consortium, looking at a broader group of rejected ballots than those covered in the court decisions, 175,010 in all, found that Mr. Gore might have won if the courts had ordered a full statewide recount of all the rejected ballots.

Considering how much today’s liberal outrage is based on the notion that the other side is simply unreasonable and ignoring the facts, it’s kind of glaring that their little myth today is founded in misremembering something from last decade.

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