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Dec. 12, 2000: Bush v. Gore Decision

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Celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision to stop the recount

Celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision to stop the recount

Almost nine years after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore, I continue to be asked the question: am I glad that I played a role in resolving one of the closest presidential elections in American history? I generally assume that those asking the question consider it a challenging one because so much controversy surrounded the Florida recount. My answer is simple: absolutely. Yes, the dramatic 31 days in Florida were unsettling for the American people, and equally unsettling for the world at large as it watched our democratic machinery grind through legal fits and starts. Foreign leaders whom I came to know during my tenure as secretary of state called during the proceedings and wanted to know what was wrong with America. In the end, the Supreme Court decisions affirmed what I have always believed about the United States of America. Our system works because it is a system of laws, not of man. And that is the biggest lesson of Florida—the rule of law prevailed. It was a close election and the aftermath was difficult. But there were no riots in the streets, no Molotov cocktails or rocks hurled, only temperate demonstrations conducted. In America, we may take this peaceful transition of power for granted, particularly when it is measured against the standards of other countries and recorded history. It is, however, a rare and precious event, the paramount strength of a great country.

Baker served as chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan and was secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush. He served as chief legal adviser to George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. In 2006 he was the Republican co-chair of the Iraq Study Group. 

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