As you know, I love the American Experience tv show, so I launched into the latest one about Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female U.S. Supreme Court justice.
I didn’t love all of it. Usually you get some kind of revelation about the person in these things, but not this time. Perhaps because she is still alive, or perhaps she is just that transparent.
What I did love was the background on the 2000 presidential election (1 hour 36 min in) and the thinking behind her decision. That was fascinating. Like everyone, I saw the decision falling on party lines, but this show claims to spell out her logic. Supposedly, forget safe harbors and state vs federal courts. It was this:
- If Gore won the chance to continue the recount there would have to be a new set of electors.
- If a state has two sets of electors it goes to Congress.
- If it had gone to Congress the House and Senate each would get one vote (so the decision would be either unanimous or a tie), and they were controlled by separate parties so they would tie.
- Per the rules it would then be decided by the governor of Florida, who was, haha, the brother of George W. Bush.
- He would award the electors to his brother and “we would look like a banana republic.”
She knew that Bush would win, so decide that way anyway and spare us all.
There’s always something to learn on that show.