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George W. Bush and the Supreme Court Case of Bush v. Gore (2000)

95 min

Did the United States Supreme Court correctly decide Bush v. Gore (2000)?

Students will:

  • Understand the major events during the 2000 presidential election in Florida.
  • Analyze arguments from different sides of the case.
  • Analyze applications of the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Evaluate the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bush v. Gore (2000).

  • Handout A: George W. Bush and the Supreme Court Case of Bush v. Gore (2000)
  • Handout B: Interview Questions
  • Handout C: Document-Based Question
  • Handout D: Organizing Documents

To create a context for this lesson, students complete Constitutional Connection: Electing The President.

 

Image By Elvert Barnes from Baltimore, Maryland, USA – 56.ElectionProtest.USSC.WDC.11December2000, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58793702

Have students read Handout A: George W. Bush and the Supreme Court Case of Bush v. Gore (2000) and answer the questions.

Ask students to interview a parent or relative who is old enough to recall the events of the 2000 Election. They may wish to use Handout B: Interview Questions to guide their conversation.

Show the five-minute thematic documentary The Electors Shall Meet: Electing the President, found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sl4Pb5Ypbho.

Invite students to share what they learned from their interviews.

DAY ONE ACTIVITY [25 MINUTES]

Distribute Handout C: Document Based Question. Divide the class into pairs and have students skim over the key question, documents, and scaffolding questions.

Assign two or three documents to each group. Have them examine the documents closely and answer the scaffolding questions on their own paper. Note: Because of its longer length, the group that examines the Supreme Court’s majority opinion should examine that document only.

As a large group, go over each of the documents in turn. Have a spokesperson from each group share their responses to the scaffolding questions. See the Answer Key for suggested responses.

DAY TWO ACTIVITY [50 MINUTES]

Give students the entire class period to write their essays in response to the key question on Handout C. They should use their annotated documents, and, if you choose, Handout A, to guide their writing.

Distribute Handout D: Organizing Documents. Have groups decide whether each document would most likely be used in argument by the attorney for Governor Bush, the attorney for Vice President Gore, by both, or by neither. They should record their selections on Handout D.

Reconvene the class and go over responses to Handout D.

Write or project the key question: “Did the United States Supreme Court correctly decide Bush v. Gore (2000)?” and let students know that they will be writing their answer to this question in an essay next class. Students should annotate the documents with ideas, information, or an outline that will help them write their essays.

Have students build on the essays they wrote in class to address constitutional issues raised by the case of Bush v. Gore (2000):

  • Article II of the Constitution: Power to appoint electors is given to the state legislatures. Did the Florida Supreme Court decision violate Article II?
  • Separation of powers: Did the Florida Supreme Court interpret Florida law, or did it actually make new law by forcing Harris to accept the late returns, and later ordering a state-wide recount?
  • Federalism: When, if ever, should the US Supreme Court be involved in state Supreme Court decisions about state law?