The extraordinary presidential election ended not with a bang but with a legal whimper from the U.S. Supreme Court. The 5-4 decision in Al Gore v. George Bush was a mishmash, provoking four separate dissents and leaving legal scholars with many loose ends and citizens with lots of questions.
One of the clichés of historians and civics textbooks is that the U.S. is an “experiment” in democracy. The inconclusive November 7 election and the subsequent wrangling over the certification of Florida’s votes have verified that it’s far from an empty cliché. This really is an experiment, and a very messy one.
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