Xavier Cortada, “Bush v. Gore,” oil on canvas, 48″ x 36″, 2017

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Chapter 11: Bush v. Gore

Haste Makes Mistakes

Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000)


Xavier Cortada’s picture depicts Bush v. Gore with an hourglass, reflecting the tremendous time pressure that the Supreme Court felt to resolve the 2000 election. But it is exactly this time pressure that caused the Court to go seriously wrong: deciding a case that was not ripe for review, incorrectly applying equal protection law, and violating a basic principle of federalism that state courts get the last word on questions of state law.


“In this essay, I want to argue that it is precisely what Cortada depicts with his hourglass – time pressure – that caused the Court to go wrong. Part I reviews what occurred in November and December 2000. Part II describes the Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore. Part III discusses what went wrong because of the false perception of time pressure depicted by Cortada.”


Erwin Chemerinsky is the Dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. He holds a J.D. from Harvard University and is one of the most frequently cited legal scholars in the country. He is the author of numerous books on constitutional law, most recently Closing the Courthouse Door: How the Supreme Court Has Made Your Rights Unenforceable (2017).


Xavier Cortada is Professor of Practice at the University of Miami Department of Art and Art History. He grew up in Miami and holds degrees from the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences, School of Law, and Graduate School of Business. His work merges art with other disciplines, including law, science, and politics.