Back when Sandra Day O’Connor was still on the Supreme Court, busy saving affirmative action and the right to abortion, liberals who wanted a reason to forgive her vote in Bush v. Gore often asked me — begged me — to assure them that Justice O’Connor was sorry. No, she’s not, I would reply, anticipating the heartbroken expressions my words always evoked. It seemed to me that this was a woman who looked forward, not back, and who never wasted energy on regret. So now it turns out that the retired justice, just past her 83rd birthday, does have second thoughts about Bush v. Gore and, more to the point, is willing to express them.
Now she tells us. More than 12 years after the fact, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said it was probably a mistake for the Supreme Court to hear Bush v. Gore and anoint George W. Bush as president of the United States. “It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue,” Justice O’Connor told the Chicago Tribune editorial board on Friday. “Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’” She continued: “Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision. It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn’t done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day.”