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Gore Call Irked Retirement-Minded Justice

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was upset during an election-night party when she heard Florida was first called for Al Gore, exclaiming, "this is terrible," according to a report in Newsweek.

O'Connor made the comment at about 8 p.m., the magazine said, and then declared that meant the election was "over" because Gore had also won two other key states.

Quoting two eyewitnesses, Newsweek said O'Connor then walked off to get a plate of food, and her husband, John, explained to friends and acquaintances that she was upset because they wanted to retire to Arizona and a Gore presidency meant they would have to wait another four years.

Not long after Florida was called for Gore, news organizations retracted the call and said Florida was too close to call. The state was then called for Bush, but again that call was retracted and the race remained in limbo for five weeks.

O'Connor, 70, had been Republican majority leader of the Arizona State Senate before being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

The magazine says her remarks will likely fuel criticism that high court justices "sought to influence" election returns in their ruling in George W. Bush v. Albert Gore Jr. that ended the impasse over the presidential election.

Bush, the Republican governor of Texas, won the White House when Gore, who had sought a hand recount of thousands of contested ballots in Florida, conceded defeat Wednesday, one day after a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that prevented any new recounts from going forward.

Justice O'Connor had no comment.

CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Reuters Limited contributed to this report

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