By Charles Lane
On Dec. 12, 2000, the Supreme Court ended the recount of Florida’s votes in that year’s presidential election, effectively awarding 25 electoral votes to Republican George W. Bush and making him president.
The decision was 5 to 4, with the most conservative Republican-appointed justices in favor of Bush. Democrats condemned the ruling as nakedly partisan, saying it was based not on precedent but a cooked-to-order legal rationale: Recount rules didn’t treat all ballots the same way, thus violating the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection of the laws. Many critics saw Bush v. Gore as an indelible blot on the court’s legitimacy.