restricted access 1. Bushed and Gored: A Brief Review of the Initial Literature
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

THE RESOLUTION OF the 2000 presidential election by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore (531 U.S. 98 [2000]) generated an extraordinary outpouring of literature in a very short period of time. Like the event itself, these writings are complex, acrimonious, and filled with foreboding about the state of U.S. politics. Even a seasoned observer can be overwhelmed and perplexed by this torrent of prose, whereas a more causal reader may feel, literally, “bushed” and “gored.” These initial writings are nevertheless important because they reveal much about the controversy itself and lay the foundation for the broader literature that will follow. This book is a step in the development of such a broader literature, focusing on the long-term consequences of Bush v. Gore for the law and politics. In general, these essays reflect two themes that underlie the initial writings. First, what is the probable impact of this decision on the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court as the final arbiter of political disputes? And second, what is the probable impact of this controversy on the legitimacy of U.S. politics in general? A brief review of the initial literature is thus in order (for another review, see Garrett 2003). For ease of presentation, we will restrict ourselves to books published in 2001 or 2002. Here, three rough distinctions are helpful: reportage (how was the disputed election resolved?), polemics (was the resolution a positive or negative development?), and scholarly analyses (what did the resolution mean?). After considering each of these elements, we can place the present essays in proper context. 1 ONE Bushed and Gored A Brief Review of the Initial Literature John C. Green REPORTAGE The 2000 election’s controversial ending was not entirely unprecedented in U.S. history, but no one involved could remember the most similar previous contest, the 1876 election (for a good overview of contested elections, see Heumann and Cassak 2003). That nearly everyone was shocked by the closeness of the popular vote, the multiple failures of election administration, the thirty-six-day struggle over the disputed ballots in Florida, and the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court culminating in Bush v. Gore is hardly surprising . The rapid pace of these unusual events left even the participants confused . As a consequence, a cottage industry emerged to describe these happenings, including instant analyses, reporting compendia, and summary narratives. Instant Analyses For about one-quarter of a century students of U.S. politics have benefited from a genre of books published within months of presidential elections, offering an instant analysis of the election results (by academic standards anyway ). Typically written by a team of scholars and intended primarily for classroom use, these books are often well done and serve as the starting point for more detailed scholarship. Several of these books were published after 2000, and two stand out with regard to the unusual end of the campaign. The Perfect Tie, by political scientists James Ceaser and Andrew Busch (2001), is to date the best short account of the 2000 presidential campaign. Ceaser and Busch catalogue the confluence of factors that produced a very competitive presidential campaign, which generated a very close vote, and, in turn, caused the postelection controversy. Indeed, the even division of the electorate is essential to understanding the disputes that followed—a fact frequently overlooked or downplayed in other parts of the initial literature. Simply put, the 2000 election was too close to call and any attempt to do so was bound to raise legitimacy questions. The authors describe the unexpected postelection events as follows: Americans awoke on November 8 to discover that a new campaign was just getting under way, one that would last five weeks and have as many ups and downs as the original campaign itself. There were two major questions at that moment that no one could answer: who would win, and who would decide who would win. (171) This postelection campaign by the major candidates was indeed unprecedented , and the “perfect tie” begat what might be called a “politics of improvisation .” Ceaser and Busch offer a useful list of the major power centers that structured this postelection campaign, including the national political climate , local election officials, state and federal courts, and the state and JOHN C. GREEN 2 national legislatures. According to Ceaser and Busch, the postelection period was a drama in fourteen acts, and their account reveals how the decisions by the Bush and Gore campaigns (as well...


pdf

Subject Headings

  • Law -- Political aspects.
  • United States. Supreme Court.
  • Bush, George W. (George Walker), 1946- -- Trials, litigation, etc.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 2001-2009.
  • Contested elections -- United States.
  • Gore, Albert, 1948- -- Trials, litigation, etc.
  • Political questions and judicial power -- United States.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access