The presidential election of 2000 is one that will live in infamy. Few elections have been as closely contested, and none more controversial. Vice President Gore, who got more votes, made a valid argument for a recount, yet still failed to win despite his best efforts. Personally I believe that Gore had every right to file his case, and that the Florida Supreme Court was correct in their interpretation of their law, and there was no reason for the Supreme Court to intervene. In this paper, I will concentrate on the ruling of the Florida Supreme Court, and why they decided to continue the recount.
The main argument in this case was whether election returns can be handed in after seven days, and whether the Florida Judiciary had jurisdiction to interpret their own law. Vice President Gore quoted federalism, and the right to vote as reasons why the recount should continue, where as Governor Bush felt that the United States Supreme Court has the final say in this issue, and the Florida Legislator should be the person in charge of the decision in Florida itself. These contesting viewpoints created an uproar that left our nation with out a President elect for multiple weeks.
[...] Although some believe that the Florida Court violated the legislature and the due process clause of the constitution, the court was merely doing its job. Contrary to Bush's beliefs the court did not retroactively change any law; they only interpreted a current statute. The portion of the case that I found most intriguing was the precedent set in Chappell V. Martinez (FL 1988). This case concerned a House of Representatives seat in which the vote was also separated by less than one half of one percent of the total vote. [...]
[...] Unfortunately there was a previous Florida statute that placed a time limit on election recounts, which meant the Secretary of State was left to make a decision concerning the length of time necessary to recount the ballots. The Florida Secretary of State chose not to allow any election returns after Tuesday November due to an outdated statute. This decision was then appealed in trial court based on the jurisdiction of the Secretary, and later sent to the court of appeals. [...]
[...] The Secretary is allowed to ignore returns only if they compromise the integrity of the election by precluding Florida voters from participating in the federal electoral process. Yet, she decided not to allow votes regardless of the fact that our nation was built on the voice of the people. This decision, as stated before, was appealed, and sent to the courts. Bush, in his best efforts to win the election, made two conflicting claims. He first said the United States Constitution has the final say in this case, and then goes on to say that only the state legislature can make the decision. [...]
[...] Regardless of their decision, one can draw the conclusion, that each vote should be counted, but the legal issues are what prevented common sense from ruling. The other main question at hand was the discrepancy between two Florida statutes and says, the county returns are not received by the Department of State by 5 p.m. of the seventh day following an election, all missing counties SHALL be ignored” states, the county returns are not received by the Department of state by the time specified, such returns MAY be ignored. [...]
[...] Blacker US 1 (1892) clearly delineates the jurisdiction of the judiciary to interpret state electoral laws. McPherson made consideration to the state constitutional issues, and affirmed the role of the state Supreme Court in reviewing and enacting laws made by the state legislature. Article II, section 1 of the United States Constitution says, “Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct a number of electors”. This statement gives the state the right to choose freely how it would go about picking a legislature. [...]
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