Once a Supreme Court makes a ruling on a matter, it makes a new law used to determine cases of similar nature. The judges should evaluate the impact of their judgment on the administration of justice both locally and internationally. If their ruling creates uncertainty on the interpretation of related cases, the judgment will violate the precepts of common law and equity law. In the Bush v Gore case, the Supreme Court judges cited that “consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities” (Britannica, 2000, para. 15). Due to the ambiguity of the ruling, it is unlikely that the Supreme Court would consider the precedence helpful in determining the outcome of future presidential petitions.
The Supreme Court remarks create a possibility that this ruling did not form a judicial precedence for the determination of similar cases, which contradicts the common and equity law. First, the judges wanted to protect the integrity of the electoral process and meet the constitutional deadlines for reporting presidential electoral college winners (Britannica, 2000). Second, the conflict of interest observed in the Florida presidential vote, which both Bush and Gore needed to win the election, did not provide an environment conducive to an objective manual vote recount (Britannica, 2000).
At the time, Bush’s brother, Jeb, was the governor of Florida and headed Bush’s campaigns. On the other hand, General Bob Butterworth, Florida’s State Attorney, headed Gore’s campaign. A machine votes recount indicated that Bush had led by 327 (Britannica, 2000). Besides, an order issued by a Florida court for hand recounts in select counties had started raising legitimacy concerns compounding the existing problem.
As the United States Supreme Court, the statement was conservative, restraining it from abiding by its judicial precedence created in the Bush vs. Gore case. Suppose a presidential petition was to occur in the coming election. In that case, the disclaimer that “consideration is limited to the current circumstance” implies that the court is unlikely to follow the judgment strictly in deciding a future presidential contest (Justia Supreme Court, 2000, para. 32).
Its ruling will depend on the circumstances surrounding the petition. The defendants and petitioners cannot compel the court to arrive at a decision similar to the one presented by Bush vs. Gore unless the evidence presented in the court justifies that the circumstances are the same. A contest surrounded by almost the same complexity has a minimal chance of occurring, and any slight deviation gives the judges a leeway to depart from their earlier ruling.
The ambiguity presented by the Supreme Court ruling will likely have a significant precedential effect. The judiciary plays a significant role in the United States because it listens and rules over disputes of any matter presented. If courts qualify judgment making judicial precedence almost irrelevant for the determination of future cases, citizens may lose trust in the judicial system, which is unfortunate. Though the Supreme Court intended to enforce the law, it could not escape the complications it created on judicial precedence from Bush vs. Gore’s ruling.
Historically, an aggrieved party examines the possibilities of winning a case by relying on rulings made in the past on a related matter. When such rulings are open to more than one interpretation, it creates uncertainty in the administration of justice (Lewis, 2021). As the highest court in the country, the Supreme Court should have provided concrete reasoning that informed its decision, other than citing the complexities of enforcing equal protection in election processes. It exists to address such complexities and not to compound them. For instance, the court should have ordered a machine recount of presidential votes in contested counties in Florida instead of stopping the hand recount approved by the Florida Supreme Court. That decision could have created a reliable precedence for future presidential petition contests.
Given the coming presidential election, Bush vs. Gore’s precedence should not be used in case a presidential petition arises. The ruling lacks merits for consideration as a source of law to rely on in the administration of justice for a presidential election petition. Though Gore accepted the court ruling, he cited that he did not accept it (Britannica, 2022). The four dissenting judges criticized the decision made by the five judges, who were the majority. They contended that their decision to stop the ongoing manual recount without providing a complementary process of determining the presidential vote winner in those counties was erroneous (Britannica, 2022). Justice John Paul Stevens noted that a manual recount did not violate the equal protection clause, which is a reasonable argument. Though it could have taken longer to recount the votes, the court’s ruling would have been precise and conclusive.
In the future, if the Supreme Court is to rule over a case with similar circumstances as those in Bush vs. Gore, the ruling issued should not form part of the precedence to rely on when providing judgment. Instead of undermining the ruling by state courts, they should enforce them to increase their autonomy in deciding on state matters. The inconsistencies observed in the recounting process adopted in various counties in Florida state did not form a solid ground for discontinuing the presidential vote recount. The people had already made their decision on the ballot. If the method of recounting did not affect the integrity of the vote, the complexities cited by the Supreme Court were invalid and should not be used to decide future presidential petitions.
Britannica. (2000). Bush v. Gore Law Case. Britannica. Web.
Britannica. (2022). Precedent law. Britannica. Web.
Justia Supreme Court. (2000). Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000). Justia Supreme Court. Web.
Lewis, S. (2021). Precedent and the rule of law. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 873–898. Web.