Synopsis: Justice Stevens Talks About Bush v. Gore Remedy, Equal Protection, and Partisan Gerrymandering

You can watch the video address to the American Law Institute via CSPAN.

Here is a brief synopsis. He began by describing the facts of Bush v. Gore, focusing heavily on “dimpled chad” and “hanging chads.”

He then criticizes some of the Supreme Court majority’s description of whether the Palm Beach County board changed its rules for handling ballot counting rules.  He calls the majority decision “misleading” in some respects.

Justice Stevens says his principal point of his talk “concerns the absence of any coherent rationale supporting the opinion’s reliance on the equal protection clause.”

After an extensive discussion criticizing the majority’s opinion, he turned to partisan gerrymandering.

“If a mere defect in the standards governing voting recount practices can violate the state’s duty to govern impartially, surely it must follow that the intentional practice of drawing bizarre boundaries of electoral districts in order to enhance the political power of the dominant party is unconstitutional.”

He then criticizes the Court’s failure to adopt judicially manageable standards for reviewing partisan gerrymandering.

“The unwillingness of the Supreme Court majority to recognize those standards has left the category of intentional discrimination against voters unchecked, so long as the discrimination is predicated on political party, not race.”

He suggests relying on, among other things, the racial gerrymandering standards.

When asked during Q and A whether politics played a part in the Bush v. Gore majority’s decision, Justice Stevens responded: “I don’t know.”




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