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Ten years after Bush v. Gore, the fight goes on

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Newscom

(Read caption) As attorneys for Al Gore and George W. Bush presented their arguments for and against a manual recount of Florida ballots to the nine justices of the US Supreme Court in December 2000, supporters of Gore and Bush engaged in their own debates on the courthouse steps.

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Some battles in American history and politics never end, at least in terms of passionate public argument. The Civil War. The Vietnam War. Abortion. The Red Sox and the Yankees. Bush v. Gore.

Fortunately, the last one did not come to violent revolution. But the end of the 2000 presidential election – marked Sunday by the 10-year anniversary of the US Supreme Court decision that made George W. Bush the 43rd President of the United States – is just as debatable.

The closest presidential race in US history came down to 537 votes out of 101,455,899 cast. Gore had won the popular vote by more than half a million, but it was the contentious recount in Florida – eventually halted by the Supreme Court – that gave it to Bush in the Electoral College, 271-266.

Thus did “hanging chads,” “dimpled chads,” and “pregnant chads” enter the political lexicon. (One political consultant scooped up those bits of paper ballot detritus and sold them on eBay, bags of 10 for $20.)

Depending on one’s point of view the 5-4 Supreme Court vote cutting off the Florida recount was either as it should have been (given how messed up the balloting and recount procedure had become there) or a political travesty as bad as the 1857 Dred Scott decision denying constitutional protections to slaves of African descent.

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