The presidential election of the year 2000 will be the source of controversy for years to come. Since its conclusion on Dec.12, 2000, in the U.S. Supreme Court, volumes have been written criticizing the court's decision in Bush v. Gore – which stopped hand recounts of ballots in Florida and gave George W. Bush the presidency. The justices themselves have come under considerable fire. They have been called “treasonous” by famed prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, and threatened with impeachment by the San Diego County Democratic Party and Cal State San Marcos professor Mike Byron. With the court split on ideological lines, the decision certainly appears questionable, but looking back on the flood of litigation that erupted after Nov. 7, 2000 – partisan differences aside – should the Supreme Court have even heard the case? Did it overstep its bounds by reversing a state supreme court's interpretation of state law, or was the decision appropriate based on provisions in the U.S. Constitution and federal law?
[...] My succinct conclusion is that the majority's decision to return this case to the circuit court for a count of the under-votes from either Miami-Dade County or all counties has no foundation in the law of Florida as it existed on November or at any time until the issuance of this opinion.” Wells continues to say that under common law Gore had no justification to contest the election, and that the Florida Supreme Court had, until then, given “deference to decisions made by executive officials charged with implementing Florida's election laws.” He further underscores the ruling of Sauls by asserting “after an evidentiary hearing, the trial court expressly found no dishonesty, gross negligence, improper influence, or fraud in the balloting and counting processes based upon the evidence presented,” which would have constituted a contest under Florida law. [...]
[...] The court reasoned that manual recounts can take place even without machine error. By doing so, the court ignored the legislature's intent further by expanding the number of ballots that could be recounted. Under the statutes, manual recounts are to be done when there is an “error in vote tabulation” or when misconduct is suspected. Gore did not assert misconduct, and did not show there was any error in the tabulation of votes, as the later decision, reversed by the Florida Supreme Court, of Judge N. [...]
[...] The court ruled that all “undervotes” those ballots registering no vote on the machine counters in the state had to be hand counted, and awarded Gore the votes he gained in counties that did not meet the court- sanctioned deadline. In its decision, the court said its earlier deadline was “never intended to prohibit legal votes identified after the date” from being part of the tally, and defined a legal vote as in which there is a ‘clear indication of the intent of the voter,'” borrowing language from a similar case in Illinois (however, the Illinois case gave specific instructions on how to read the The second decision did not clarify Florida law or the court's previous ruling it muddied the waters further and still did not address whether the legislature intended to meet the “safe harbor” deadline of 3 U.S.C. [...]
[...] While the court decided the case on the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Chief Justice Rehnquist's sentiments, and the argument found herein, would have made stronger justification for the court's intervention (but that's another paper altogether). Nonetheless, the Supreme Court's ability to intervene and correct the Florida court's decisions is apparent. When a state court changes presidential election law in contradiction of the federal Constitution and federal statutes, the Supreme Court must intercede to ensure the rights of voters and power granted to the legislature by the U.S. Constitution. Works Cited Albert Gore, Jr. and Joseph I. [...]
[...] Supreme Court should have heard the case is not found in the court's decision of Dec but in the decisions of the Florida Supreme Court on Nov and Dec and by association, the U.S. Supreme Court's reprimand of the Florida court on Dec By looking at just these decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court's role emerges as appropriate and necessary. In its decision on Palm Beach County Canvassing Board v. Harris the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Katherine Harris must include the results of recounts and set a new deadline for the returns to be turned in, Nov adding 12 days to the statutory seven day process. [...]
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