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Letters to the Editor: Why Bush vs. Gore shouldn’t matter in any Trump vs. Biden

An election canvasser in Miami holds up and inspects a ballot in 2000.
Election canvassers in Miami check questionable ballots in 2000, during Florida’s presidential recount.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Harry Litman’s excellent column is both enlightening and alarming. But let us not give up hope that Bush vs. Gore, the 2000 Supreme Court decision that decided that year’s election, can be confined to its unusual facts.

In a separate concurrence by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas concurring, they made it clear that the ruling was aimed very narrowly at a state court that had imperiled a legislatively mandated set of procedures:

"[The state court] significantly departed from the statutory framework ... and authorized open-ended further proceedings which could not be completed by [the constitutional safe harbor date].”

Thus, unless the Supreme Court is again presented with that fact pattern (an allegedly rogue state court altering statutory procedures in a way that imperils the safe harbor date), Bush vs. Gore should be inapplicable.

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Perhaps Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who clerked for Scalia, will soon write an opinion explaining why the Supreme Court’s powers over election procedures are not infinite, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor concurring.

Dan Schechter, Los Alamitos

The writer is a professor emeritus at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

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To the editor: Litman does know that Florida votes in question in 2000 were eventually analyzed, right? It turned out that under most recount scenarios, George W. Bush would have won anyway, so the Supreme Court didn’t change the outcome at all.

The way the left still carps about it, one would think that no Democrat remembers that.

Jerry Koch, Newport Beach


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