Bush v. Gore has lessons for us

The biggest mistake Al Gore made was caving on the election in Florida when he didn’t have to. The Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore on Dec. 12, 2000 didn’t say “abort,” it said, “remanded for further proceedings” back to Florida to establish a consistent statewide recount.

Florida’s Supreme Court had supported Gore three times already in the election’s decisions. Gore had an excellent opportunity if he asked for a full recount. The U.S. Supreme Court simply didn’t want the campaigns to cherry-pick the counties.

Twenty states had later election certifications, so Gore could have also requested an extension of time. Yet, he gave up overall. He clearly didn’t take into account the harm that eventually would be done by a Bush presidency. Had Gore persisted and won, we may still have had the Clinton-Gore surpluses. There wouldn’t have been the Bush tax breaks, including for the rich, or the second war in Iraq. Gore opposed both, and they are two-thirds of the deficit. Because the United States is the world’s economic leader, the entire world might not be in the economic mess that it’s in now.

The lesson of the missed interpretation of Bush v. Gore should be applied to every Supreme Court ruling: Read the decision.

With the upcoming decision on the Affordable Health Care Act, expected in days, the outcome may differ wildly from the media interpretations. There could be no — or partial or full — repeal of the bill. Provisions covering preexisting conditions, preventive care including mammograms and colonoscopies, seniors’ drugs, children on parents’ plans through age 26, no lifetime caps and requiring 80 percent of benefits to go to patients, not administrators, could be kept or thrown out. The Medicaid expansion to 30 million new beneficiaries could be kept, under Congressional prerogative, or thrown out. The whole bill could be sustained, guaranteeing healthcare under the general welfare clause, or thrown out as an infringement of individual rights.

Lesson to us all: Read the decision, not just the media commentaries. Then, tell the political leaders what you think. But let’s work from the facts.

Robert Weiner, president, and Richard Mann, senior policy analyst, Robert Weiner Associates,

Washington, D.C.




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