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United States

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Election Ruling 438

Posted by Hemos
from the first-in-first-posted dept.
Well, the United States Supreme Court has given their "ruling" concerning the Florida Supreme Court. They've asked for more information fromthe Florida Supreme Court. Update: 12/04 06:01 PM by H : You can read the the actual ruling as well. Update: 12/04 07:59 PM by H :Thanks to Mr. Sturkel for this much better analysis: "In today's posting of the Supreme Court ruling on the Florida ballot case you state that the Supreme Court over turned the Florida State Supreme Court case on manual recounts; this is incorrect. The High Court "set aside" the case, not over turned it which is two different things. In setting aside the case the Supreme Court asked the Florida Supreme Court to re-examine the case and to explain and clarify further the basis of their ruling, In a nutshell, The Supreme Court wants to know why the Florida Supreme Court did what they did before issuing a final ruling on the case."
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US Supreme Court Overturns Florida Supreme Court

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  • Bush is the winner.

    Hemos seems to have a problem with reading comprehension. He gets todays Short Bus Award. For those interested in what's the ruling means, CNN has a better explanation [cnn.com].

    Several of my friends have written slashdot off as a waste of time. I'm starting to agree with them.

  • Given what I've heard Gore say, and reading on others, the current problems are 25% Gore's fault, 75% Dems. Gore was at least willing to take a full manual recount of all of FL and accept the results as found, but Bush declined. Interestingly enough, Bush lawyers are aiming to fight for a full FL recount if Gore wins in various count cases.

    In any case, I don't think Gore is the 'loser' here, though we think that now. This is a big stab at any party politics, and I don't think in 4 years, if it does turn out that a Bush & Rep. Congress was able to do a good job, that a Rep candidate is going to have a good shot just on party affliation alone. But chances are, the next 4 years will be ineffectual, the only person with real power in the gov't being Alan Greenspan.

  • Here is the link to the original story on CNN here:

    http://www.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/11/18/ seminole.county/ [cnn.com]

    There have been more recent news stories to the effect that the democrats were not allowed similar access.

    there is a more detailed and up to date story on ABCNews here [go.com]

  • Definitely premature.

    The ruling, oddly enough, was an unsigned ruling (definitely not normal) where the court asserted that there was "there is considerable uncertanty as to the precise grounds for the decision" [akamai.net] in the Florida Court's decision. Therefore they have invalidated the decision based upon precendent and sent it back to Florida to Reconsider. See the story from CNN [cnn.com]

    In the WumpusWorld of Law the Supreme court has determines that the Florida State Supreme court fell into a pit but thy have extra life to try again.

    Despite the hopes of many this does not hand either side a victory really. In some sense it is better for bush because it invalidates a ruling favorable to Gore but it does not nevessarily give him the victory.

    It seems like we won't really know until we hit the hard deadline of December 18th when the Electoral College meets. On that day (or more accurately 6 days before it the 12th, the State of Florda, by federal law, must have appointed it's electors.

    I guess we stiull have time to wait before moving off. Perhaps I'll see you in Monaco.

    Irvu.

  • All the liberals are now talking about the severe blow that "states rights" has taken in this ruling; really, though, is it a blow to states rights when different brances of a state's government are in conflict with each other?

    Although seeing the liberals suddenly pretend to care about states' rights is funny, I have to admit.

  • Dogone justices did not announce how many of them voted for this decision...

    The decision of the Jutices voided the decision by the Florida court. If they reconsider the case and issue a new opinion, this puts us back on square 1 here. The more important case is the Judge Saul case. This will be announced at roughly 2 pm. No matter what, it will be appealed. In the case of a finding favoring Gore, Bush has the obvious appeal that Gore could not bring this contest under law since he is neither a citizen of, taxpayer in or candidate in a election in Florida. This last point is more important that you might think. How the Gore team missed having the electors bring the contest versus having Gore bring the contest is beyond me. The statute is plain in its language. The electors (since they are the candidates) MUST bring the contest not Mr. Gore (who is not the candidate). Mr. Gore has no standing in this.

    Personally, I found the attitude displayed by the Gore legal team toward the "plain folk" at the end of the case to be an supremely arrogant example of "We are smart, you are stupid, now get lost and fuck yourself." Not at all worthy of them.

  • Thank you for writing this. I hope it gets modded up. It's neat to know that (logically) per curiam decisions have less precedental value. I'm now starting to get annoyed with the real media sources which call this a unanimous decision.

    I hope your post gets modded up.
  • I'm pretty much in agreement with you, with one caveat: I don't just want this over. I want this done right.

    I forgot where I read this, but more recounting won't give a more accurate result, just a different one. Ballots may be lost, ballots may be damaged, ballots may be changed. Hand counting is subject to numerous inaccuracies.

    We've discovered that our vote counting processes aren't exact, when it came down to a very close result. We need some improvements in the mechanics of vote-counting, but we also need significant improvements in election security. Right now, in most jurisdictions, it's very easy to vote multiple times. How many of you who voted were asked to produce an ID?

    Gore supporters are complaining that many of their votes haven't been counted, but don't mention many of the military absentee ballots which were disqualified, nor the Seminole County absentees that Gore supporters are trying to disqualify, [nypost.com] though no fraud is alleged.

    We have a result that's within the margin of error. For the good of the country, it should be closed here.

  • There is yet another perspective to consider... we can all think of a recent election somewhere in Europe where the loser tried to claim that the election results showing him to be the loser were invalid.

    Consider: after two or three recounts, the loser continues to be the loser, and yet continues to argue that the results as tabulated are not valid and require further recounts. Lawyers on the side of the loser are trying to invalidated many overseas ballots cast by members servering in the country's military. The loser claims to be clearly the people's choice, even though he only leads the popular election by a couple of hundred thousand out of one hundred million votes (probably within the popular election's margin of error, if you count up the ballots thrown out not just in Palm Beach county, but all the other counties).

    I'm not trying to say that the Democrats are corrupt here; I'm just playing Devil's Advocate to balance the discussion. You gave lots of examples why the Republicans are stealing the election, but there are plenty of examples on both sides that can easily be interpreted as corruption.

    -Rob

  • by GrievousAngel (220826) on Monday December 04, 2000 @08:17AM (#583081) Homepage
    They didn't really overturn it; they sent it back to the Florida state Supreme Court to reconsider.

  • by Art_XIV (249990) on Monday December 04, 2000 @09:16AM (#583089) Journal

    For good or for ill (probably for ill), the Federal government has been taking power away from the states since about two days before the Constitution was ratified. In spite of the 10th Amendment.

    Citizens choose candidates based upon the promises of "getting something done", "stopping something," "giving you something" that candidates make.

    Invariably, these promises step on the toes of the states, who are either trying to do the same thing, do the opposite, or do nothing at all.

    Statism, as opposed to Federalism, is a simple result of the tendency of voters to give away their votes for a buck or a sentiment, sometimes both.

    Either quit bitching about the Feds, or learn to vote for candidates who promise to do nothing.

  • One possible (and likely) scenario is that the Florida Supreme Court will look for a way to rewrite its opinion....
    But this would raise the question: "If you can come to the same conclusion now without invoking the Florida Constitution, then why did you mention it at all the first time you ruled?"

    Were I on the Florida Supreme Court, I would suggest issuing a revised opinion: "In light of the decision handed us by the U.S. Supreme Court, and in light of the fact that the late-certified election results are being contested in lower courts anyway, we declare this case to be moot. And by the way, on January 21, we are all taking a long vacation, and anyone who tries to send us a brief will be summarily executed."
    --

  • Absolutely. None of this, to me, is an argument that Gore is particularly better- Gore scares the hell out of me, as I am interested in electronic civil liberties- but absolutely. Welcome to the United Bananas Of America. Not just a republic, but a first world banana republic! Now all we need is a collapsing economy- doh! :P
  • by startled (144833) on Monday December 04, 2000 @09:55AM (#583099)
    *yawn* Let me guess-- you voted Republican.

    If you've been following the opinion polls on all this, everything is sharply divided. About half the country thinks the Republicans are a bunch of crafty, evil, election stealers. The other half of the country thinks the Democrats are a bunch of crafty, evil, election stealers. Each side comes up with a lot of boring, self-righteous rhetoric. The truth is, each side is trying their damnedest to win the election, ideals be damned. The Democrats say "every vote should be heard", and then fight to get military ballots invalidated. The Republicans say, "this should be decided by the people, not the courts", and then are the first to file a lawsuit.

    The truth is, both candidates are going to come out of this looking bad, and low on support. They're both going to have trouble with re-election.

    The Supreme Court of the U.S. managed to stay out of the entire shitstorm by not making a decisive decision about how the election results should be treated. They may catch some crap for that, but most people are quite happy that they have some enough respect for state's rights to stay out of it.
  • ...and if the US SC had overturned the FL SC decision, it would be in favor of states' rights in doing so. The FL SC (according to the Bush camp's argument) violated the doctrine of separation of powers by changing a law rather than interpreting a law.

    If the US SC determines that this is the case, then restoring the Florida legislature's power (by restoring the laws established before the election) is a win for Florida and all states, since it reaffirms that the judicial branch (generally non-elected at the SC level, although FL has a "no-confidence" process for their SC) may not hold the other (generally elected) branches of government hostage by altering laws ex post facto.

    I don't know if I'm being as clear as I need to here, so let me reiterate in the abstract. The Bush camp is presenting this as a case about seperation of powers, about proper delegation of powers. A SC ruling in favor of proper delegation is a moral victory for those who wish to see power delegated differently to the states, as well as those who are strong believers in the Constitution.

    I don't see how Bush's lawyers are betraying his ideology here, even though just about anyone running for president (with a few exceptions, Nader fans) is really a whore in a suit [woggo.org].


    ~wog

  • by David Hume (200499) on Monday December 04, 2000 @09:20AM (#583104) Homepage

    A copy of the Supreme Court's slip opinion is quoted below:
    "(Slip Opinion) Cite as: 531 U. S. ____ (2000) 1


    Per Curiam

    NOTICE:

    This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.

    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

    No. 00- 836

    GEORGE W. BUSH, PETITIONER v. PALM BEACH COUNTY CANVASSING BOARD ET AL.

    ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT [December 4, 2000]

    PER CURIAM. The Supreme Court of the State of Florida interpreted its elections statutes in proceedings brought to require manual recounts of ballots, and the certification of the recount results, for votes cast in the quadrennial Presidential election held on November 7, 2000. Governor George W. Bush, Republican candidate for the Presidency, filed a petition for certiorari to review the Florida Supreme Court decision. We granted certiorari on two of the questions presented by petitioner: whether the decision of the Florida Supreme Court, by effectively changing the State' s elector appointment procedures after election day, violated the Due Process Clause or 3 U. S. C. 5, and whether the decision of that court changed the manner in which the State' s electors are to be selected, in violation of the legislature' s power to designate the manner for selection under Art. II, 1, cl. 2 of the United States Constitution. 531 U. S. ____ (2000).

    On November 8, 2000, the day following the Presidential election, the Florida Division of Elections reported that Governor Bush had received 2,909,135 votes, and respondent Democrat Vice President Albert Gore, Jr., had received 2,907,351, a margin of 1,784 in Governor Bush' s favor. Under Fla. Stat. 102.141( 4) (2000), because the margin of victory was equal to or less than one-half of one percent of the votes cast, an automatic machine recount occurred. The recount resulted in a much smaller margin of victory for Governor Bush. Vice President Gore then exercised his statutory right to submit written requests for manual recounts to the canvassing board of any county. See 102.166. He requested recounts in four counties: Volusia, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami- Dade.

    The parties urged conflicting interpretations of the Florida Election Code respecting the authority of the canvassing boards, the Secretary of State (hereinafter Secretary), and the Elections Canvassing Commission. On November 14, in an action brought by Volusia County, and joined by the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board, Vice President Gore, and the Florida Democratic Party, the Florida Circuit Court ruled that the statutory 7- day deadline was mandatory, but that the Volusia board could amend its returns at a later date. The court further ruled that the Secretary, after "considering all attendant facts and circumstances," App. to Pet. for Cert. 49a, could exercise her discretion in deciding whether to include the late amended returns in the statewide certification.

    The Secretary responded by issuing a set of criteria by which she would decide whether to allow a late filing. The Secretary ordered that, by 2 p. m. the following day, November 15, any county desiring to forward late returns submit a written statement of the facts and circumstances justifying a later filing. Four counties submitted statements and, after reviewing the submissions, the Secretary determined that none justified an extension of the filing deadline. On November 16, the Florida Democratic Party and Vice President Gore filed an emergency motion in the state court, arguing that the Secretary had acted arbitrarily and in contempt of the court' s earlier ruling. The following day, the court denied the motion, ruling that the Secretary had not acted arbitrarily and had exercised her discretion in a reasonable manner consistent with the court' s earlier ruling. The Democratic Party and Vice President Gore appealed to the First District Court of Appeal, which certified the matter to the Florida Supreme Court. That court accepted jurisdiction and sua sponte entered an order enjoining the Secretary and the Elections Canvassing Commission from finally certifying the results of the election and declaring a winner until further order of that court.

    The Supreme Court, with the expedition requisite for the controversy, issued its decision on November 21. Palm Beach County Canvassing Bd. v. Harris, Nos. SC00- 2346, SC00- 2348, and SC00- 2349 (Nov. 21, 2000), App. to Pet. for Cert. 1a. As the court saw the matter, there were two principal questions: whether a discrepancy between an original machine return and a sample manual recount resulting from the way a ballot has been marked or punched is an "error in vote tabulation" justifying a full manual recount; and how to reconcile what it spoke of as two conflicts in Florida' s election laws: (a) between the time frame for conducting a manual recount under Fla. Stat. 102.166 (2000) and the time frame for submitting county returns under 102.111 and 102.112, and (b) between 102.111, which provides that the Secretary "shall . . . ignor[ e]" late election returns, and 102.112, which provides that she "may . . . ignor[ e]" such returns.

    With regard to the first issue, the court held that, under the plain text of the statute, a discrepancy between a sample manual recount and machine returns due to the way in which a ballot was punched or marked did constitute an "error in vote tabulation" sufficient to trigger the statutory provisions for a full manual recount.

    With regard to the second issue, the court held that the "shall . . . ignor[ e]" provision of 102.111 conflicts with the "may . . . ignor[ e]" provision of 102.112, and that the "may . . . ignor[ e]" provision controlled. The court turned to the questions whether and when the Secretary may ignore late manual recounts. The court relied in part upon the right to vote set forth in the Declaration of Rights of the Florida Constitution in concluding that late manual recounts could be rejected only under limited circumstances. The court then stated: "[ B] ecause of our reluctance to rewrite the Florida Election Code, we conclude that we must invoke the equitable powers of this Court to fashion a remedy . . . ." App. to Pet. for Cert. 37a. The court thus imposed a deadline of November 26, at 5 p. m., for a return of ballot counts. The 7- day deadline of 102.111, assuming it would have applied, was effectively extended by 12 days. The court further directed the Secretary to accept manual counts submitted prior to that deadline.

    As a general rule, this Court defers to a state court' s interpretation of a state statute. But in the case of a law enacted by a state legislature applicable not only to elections to state offices, but also to the selection of Presidential electors, the legislature is not acting solely under the authority given it by the people of the State, but by virtue of a direct grant of authority made under Art. II, 1, cl. 2, of the United States Constitution. That provision reads:

    "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress . . . ."
    Although we did not address the same question petitioner raises here, in McPherson v. Blacker, 146 U. S. 1, 25 (1892), we said: [ Art. II, 1, cl. 2] does not read that the people or the citizens shall appoint, but that 'each State shall' ; and if the words ' in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct,' had been omitted, it would seem that the legislative power of appointment could not have been successfully questioned in the absence of any provision in the state constitution in that regard. Hence the insertion of those words, while operating as a limitation upon the State in respect of any attempt to circumscribe the legislative power, cannot be held to operate as a limitation on that power itself."

    There are expressions in the opinion of the Supreme Court of Florida that may be read to indicate that it construed the Florida Election Code without regard to the extent to which the Florida Constitution could, consistent with Art. II, 1, cl. 2, "circumscribe the legislative power." The opinion states, for example, that "[ t] o the extent that the Legislature may enact laws regulating the electoral process, those laws are valid only if they impose no ' unreasonable or unnecessary' restraints on the right of suffrage" guaranteed by the state constitution. App. to Pet. for Cert. 30a. The opinion also states that "[ b] ecause election laws are intended to facilitate the right of suffrage, such laws must be liberally construed in favor of the citizens' right to vote . . . ." Ibid.

    In addition, 3 U. S. C. 5 provides in pertinent part: "If any State shall have provided, by laws enacted prior to the day fixed for the appointment of the electors, for its final determination of any controversy or contest concerning the appointment of all or any of the electors of such State, by judicial or other methods or procedures, and such determination shall have been made at least six days before the time fixed for the meeting of the electors, such determination made pursuant to such law so existing on said day, and made at least six days prior to said time of meeting of the electors, shall be conclusive, and shall govern in the

    6 BUSH v. PALM BEACH COUNTY CANVASSING BD. Per Curiam

    counting of the electoral votes as provided in the Constitution, and as hereinafter regulated, so far as the ascertainment of the electors appointed by such State is concerned."

    The parties before us agree that whatever else may be the effect of this section, it creates a "safe harbor" for a State insofar as congressional consideration of its electoral votes is concerned. If the state legislature has provided for final determination of contests or controversies by a law made prior to election day, that determination shall be conclusive if made at least six days prior to said time of meeting of the electors. The Florida Supreme Court cited 3 U. S. C. 1- 10 in a footnote of its opinion, App. to Pet. for Cert. 32a, n. 55, but did not discuss 5. Since 5 contains a principle of federal law that would assure finality of the State' s determination if made pursuant to a state law in effect before the election, a legislative wish to take advantage of the "safe harbor" would counsel against any construction of the Election Code that Congress might deem to be a change in the law.

    After reviewing the opinion of the Florida Supreme Court, we find "that there is considerable uncertainty as to the precise grounds for the decision." Minnesota v. National Tea Co., 309 U. S. 551, 555 (1940). This is sufficient reason for us to decline at this time to review the federal questions asserted to be present. See ibid.

    "It is fundamental that state courts be left free and unfettered by us in interpreting their state constitutions. But it is equally important that ambiguous or obscure adjudications by state courts do not stand as barriers to a determination by this Court of the validity under the federal constitution of state action. Intelligent exercise of our appellate powers compels us to ask for the elimination of the obscurities and ambiguities from the opinions in such cases." Id., at 557.

    Cite as: 531 U. S. ____ (2000) 7 Per Curiam

    Specifically, we are unclear as to the extent to which the Florida Supreme Court saw the Florida Constitution as circumscribing the legislature' s authority under Art. II, 1, cl. 2. We are also unclear as to the consideration the Florida Supreme Court accorded to 3 U. S. C. 5. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida is therefore vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

    It is so ordered."
    Source: Dec. 4: High court ruling on recounts [msnbc.com].

  • When the time for re-election comes, I recommend USA to ask UN to appoint international observers to verify that all goes as planned. People from countries with more experience in difficult elections, like Serbia, Columbia, and North Korea! That should assure that things are done properly and thoroughly, and that there will be no doubt of the result afterwards.
  • by David Hume (200499) on Monday December 04, 2000 @09:56AM (#583114) Homepage

    The Bush campaign did not ask for the decision to be overturned, they specifically asked for it to be set aside. The Supreme Court decided in favor of Bush, so as requested the Florida decision was set aside.
    I don't want to be rude, but you are simply wrong regarding the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision.

    The U.S. Supreme Court's slip opinion, which I posted below, does not reverse the opinion of the Florida Supreme Court, it instead vacates and remands the decision in order to obtain clarification. The U.S. Supreme Court specifically states:
    It is fundamental that state courts be left free and unfettered by us in interpreting their state constitutions. But it is equally important that ambiguous or obscure adjudications by state courts do not stand as barriers to a determination by this Court of the validity under the federal constitution of state action. Intelligent exercise of our appellate powers compels us to ask for the elimination of the obscurities and ambiguities from the opinions in such cases." Id., at 557.


    Specifically, we are unclear as to the extent to which the Florida Supreme Court saw the Florida Constitution as circumscribing the legislature' s authority under Art. II, 1, cl. 2. We are also unclear as to the consideration the Florida Supreme Court accorded to 3 U. S. C. 5. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida is therefore vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
    Thus, even this specific matter is far from over. The Florida Supreme Court could clarify its decision, make it clear that it knows that the Florida Constitution does not circumscribe the legislature' s authority under Art. II, 1, cl. 2 of the U.S. Constitution, and reach the same result. The U.S. Supreme Court could then review the new decision by the Florida Supreme Court.

  • I don't think his conduct post-election has anything to do with his potential electability in 2004. If he couldn't win by a definite margin as the sitting VP, he has no chance to do it in four years. I'd say it's time for him to run for Senate again. Or maybe he could just get a real job, you know, like a real person, instead of a member of a ruling family.
  • Because of his conduct through this entire affair, his chances of being elected for the next term of office are slim to none- even if he "wins" this term (Him winning and turning out to be a very good president would really be his only chance at this point, I think...).

    If he really wanted any chances of being elected four years from now, he should have conceded a LONG time ago instead of this whining, etc. that they're all guilty of. Basically speaking, Gore's politically self-destructed.
  • Agreed. Hemos is in way over his head here - he may be able to install Debian, a feat of some magnitude, but he obviously doesn't know beans about the American political system.

    Case in point: In NO WAY did the US Supreme Court decision "transfer power from the states to the federal government" - in fact, what's happened is just the opposite: the US Supreme Court has *upheld* the US Constitutionally-granted right of the state legislature to determine the way in which electors are determined. This ruling simply says that the Florida Supreme Court had better have had a damn good reason to (apprently) violate federal law as well as Florida's own laws regarding the conduct and certification of elections. There's no way that can be construed as a "transfer of power".

    Sorry, Hemos, but it's hard to get things any more backward that you did here. Leave the political commentary to those that paid a little bit of attention in seventh grade social studies class.
  • This means that wife-intimidation may have tipped the scales in favour of Bush : that is a sad but true fact.

    Since you want to start throwing around maybes and mights, a larger portion of the military men are married to foreign nationals than the US electorate as a whole. Those foreign nationals can't vote. So their "violent natures" as wife intimidators can be counteracted by the fact that more of their wive's can't vote because their not officially US Citizens.

    LK
  • by The Cunctator (15267) on Monday December 04, 2000 @08:54AM (#583125) Homepage
    Reuters is wrong.
    The ruling was per curiam [cornell.edu] .

    It's pretty safe to bet that there was some major dissent within SCOTUS but they knew that they couldn't afford to issue a split decision, so they fell back on the slightly cute per curiam dodge saying "we're confused".

    What they mean is "we're arguing, rewrite your decision so we can stop arguing".
  • All of us, I imagine, would wearily turn the page thinking that it was another sad tale of pitiful pre- or anti-democracy peoples in some strange elsewhere.

    No, a very large portion of us, those of us who have not been coddled into believing some myth about elections in the US being fair, would take this as business as usual and go about our way without losing a beat.

    Democrats are always on the up-n-up? Never use thug tactics or underhanded means to 'get the vote out'? Never look for ways to stop the counting when the first pass is in their favor?

    Man, I want some of what you're smokin'!!

    As for the human rights violations charges...

    One man's 'human rights violation' is another man's 'justice'.

  • Sorry, but even the Communist News Network arm of the Gore media spin machine is reporting that the opinion is indeed unanimous...
  • What it does show is that the Florida Supreme Court has acted outside of the law

    No, it only means that the Florida Supreme Court wasn't explicit enough in the BASIS for their decision (whether statuatory or constitutional).

    This is basically a non-ruling, it says "try over, and delete all the stuff about the constitution so there are no federal laws involved at all".

    ---------------------------------------------

  • Do you honestly think that Bush's conduct has been any better? The running out the clock business and manipulating public sentiment through the media is not any better than what Gore has been doing. Both sides have been completely within their rights, but they have both made mistakes.

    Personally, if Bush does ultimately win, I think the real winner is Hillary Clinton. I think Bush has shot himself in the foot for a 2nd term with his conduct. Gore may not be electable now due to public opinion (read: media opinion) -- and there really arent any other democrats of her prominance and national recognition/appeal. So if she proves to do well in her first couple years in the Senate, I wouldnt rule out her candidacy.

  • Within each state, use a proportional representation within the college, such that it cannot happen that 50% of the people in any given state are not represented at all in the college.

    Actually, some states do use a system to proportionally decide who gets the electoral votes. However, the US Constitution leaves the task of choosing how electors are picked up to each state. As far as changing it goes, it's one of those easier said than done issues. Besides, I'm sure some states like having the winner-take-all system, in order to receive more political attention in the case of a close race.

  • case has transferred a significant amount of power from the States to the Federal Government power from the States to the Federal Government

    Are you sure about that? The question was about a constitutional right given to the state's legislature. Article II Section 1, paragraph 2, Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to...

    I don't necessarily agree that the case should have been brought to the Supreme Court, but I don't think their ruling on it usurped any power.

  • GWB's case has transferred a significant amount of power from the States to the Federal Government.

    If you read the Supreme Court ruling, this case did NOT transfer states rights to the federal government. In fact, it reaffirmed a piece of states rights.

    The problem lies here: Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 states that the authority of electing electors for a presidential election lies with STATE LEGISLATURES. The US Supreme Court said that the ruling by the Florida Supreme Court ursurped the Florida Legislature's authority in conducting the election for the electors.

    So, here's the best outline for the steps of the problem:

    I. Election [eventually] concludes that Bush is the winner, as directed by FL state law

    II. FL Supreme Court declares that FL state law is bad

    Here's where the confliction comes in. The FL SC has the right to overrule FL state law, except when federal law comes into play.

    III. US Constitution says that FL state law holds power over electing electors for federal election.

    Normally, the FL SC would hold the authority in its opinion, but because it ursurped power that is directly granted to FL state law by Federal law, it's unconstitutional.

    The opinion for this case gave state legislatures quite a bit of power in how they conduct their elections for electors. What it ceased was the state supreme courts' ability to overturn a federal grant of power to the states.

    Technically, the real conclusion you can draw from this case is that if State Law has a discrepency over it's law for electing electors, it can only be overturned by the US Supreme Court (since the law is a direct link between the state and federal governments).
  • by BeBoxer (14448) on Monday December 04, 2000 @09:28AM (#583142)
    I don't know what you mean by "a result that's within the margin of error." If you mean that the margin of error far outmeasures the margin of victory, you are correct. But if that's what you mean, how should the result be "closed"?

    The sad truth is that we will never know who won the popular vote in the state of Florida. The number of votes which are up for interpretation far outnumber the margin of victory. The scary part is that an election whose results will never be accurately known is going to decide the next president. We will truly have a government "Of the lawyers, by the lawyers, and for the lawyers" as we begin the 21st century.

    Too bad nothing good will probably ever come of this. What is happening this year is just an extreme example of a systemic problem with the way we elect our President. The simple fact is that a margin of 1000 votes should not be deciding the election. The current electoral college system paired with winner-takes-all election in Florida is what created this mess. If Florida choose it's electors in proportion to the popular vote, this would be a non-issue. If the president was elected via popular vote, this would be a non-issue. Sure, the national popular vote was close also, but Gore's lead in the national popular vote is at least an order of magnitude larger than Bush's lead in FL.

    Nothing will change, though. Most potential voters don't even bother to show up. The rest don't realize that the current two-party system is engineered in the election laws. They take it on faith that there are two parties because people want only two parties. Most Americans don't realize the severity of the current problem, much less see the systemic weaknesses causing it. Americans have no clue that the rest of the world is looking on thinking that our country is being run like some third rate "fledgling democracy" with rigged elections and everything (plus the largest nuclear arsonal in the world.)
  • Frankly, I don't quite understand why everyone is getting so upset about the way slashdot covered this story (and stories like it).

    The cold, hard fact is, slashdot exists to make money. Money comes from selling advertisement space and advertisers will pay more money for pages that get a large amount of hits. Those hits come from people who want to read and post on a story, and the simple fact is: on slashdot, controversial stories (ie misleading, flamewar topics, etc) generate hits. So an easy method of making money with slashdot is with controversial stories; one way to do that is have Hemos act like a fool and post something misleading so that the hordes of crazies out there in Slashdotland flood in with their precious eyeballs, "eating up" the ads and thus generating revenue.

    Come on, why do you think Jon Katz is still on staff? At least I assume he is still on staff; I've had him filtered out for so long he may not be. ;)

    IMHO, it is foolish to depend on slashdot writeups for coverage on a topic likely to generate flamewars (like politics, guis, etc), because the writeup is likely to be skewed to bring out the crazies. In some sense, you are being exploited. So why stick around slashdot? The fact is, because the community can create content (ie posts), we are not limited to the sometimes inaccurate content that slashdot provides. A lot of smart people still gather here (although I admit less so today than yesterday, both literally and figuratively), so it is still worth reading.

    The bottom line is, if you want to encourage slashdot not to skew news, DON'T READ AND POST THOSE STORIES--IGNORE THEM. All they want from readers is a response--good or bad--because that is enough to generate money. Hit them where it hurts (by not generating hits) and if they have any sort of business sense, they will change. I admit that I am only encouraging this type of story by reading and posting, but if this post stops two people without ad filtering proxies from doing so, then good has been done. (And yes, taco, I filter your ads--all of them.)

    If you are generating lots of hits on this story, it is *your* fault that slashdot tolerates writeups like this.
  • by Rupert (28001) on Monday December 04, 2000 @08:59AM (#583144) Homepage Journal
    She wasn't born in the United States.

    --
  • The states *can* do recounts. In fact they have done recounts. Sorry buddy, Bush still won. But we have a federal government in order for it to provide some minimum standards like federal officeholders are to be elected by rules that are established before election day. Palm Beach county threw out ten year old rules as to how votes should be counted and, by my count, imposed four different sets of rules on various parts of the recount, each time at the prompting of the Gore statisticians who figured out that they weren't getting "enough" votes under the rules in use.

    That's vote stealing. The Florida Supreme Court gave these democrat dominated boards extra time to manufacture more votes. The Supreme Court just stepped in and told the Florida court that they need to have some basis in the law to make judicial judgements and their tissue of fantasies didn't make the cut for even deciding whether or not it was wrong.

    In short, the Supreme Court didn't say that the Florida Supremes got it wrong. They said that they were incoherent to the point where the federals couldn't even figure out whether the state court was right or wrong.

    The Florida Supremes need to be out on the basis of incompetence.

    Now the rest of your post makes it clear that you believe that GW Bush's policy prescriptions are so bad that a little vote stealing is OK if it saves the US from him. Shame on you.

    DB
  • Before you do that, read this article from Discover a few years ago:

    http://208.245.156.153/archive/output.cfm?ID=907

    I think it makes an interesting point, and I do believe some balance should be struck between the most populous and least populous states. The electors themselves should be given the boot, but I think the system still makes sense.
  • The Supreme Court vacated this decision because "there is considerable uncertainty as to the precise grounds for the decision." It was remanded back to the Florida Supreme Court "for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion." This means the Florida Supreme Court's decision could be reinstated if they can clarify and justify why they made the decision. The Supreme Court did not review the federal questions asserted, since they were vacating the decision anyway. If the Florida Supreme Court reinstates the decision, then the Supreme Court will consider the federal issues.

    Here's my best manual HTML translation (with some necessary formatting changes and perhaps new typos) of the original PDF [akamai.net] of the decision:
    Per Curiam
    NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D.C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES No. 00-836GEORGE W. BUSH, PETITIONER v. PALM BEACH COUNTY CANVASSING BOARD ET AL.ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT[December 4, 2000]

    PER CURIAM.

    The Supreme Court of the State of Florida interpreted its elections statutes in proceedings brought to require manual recounts of ballots, and the certification of the recount results, for votes cast in the quadrennial Presidential election held on November 7, 2000. Governor George W. Bush, Republican candidate for the Presidency, filed a petition for certiorari to review the Florida Supreme Court decision. We granted certiorari on two of the questions presented by petitioner: whether the decision of the Florida Supreme Court, by effectively changing the State's elector appointment procedures after election day, violated the Due Process Clause or 3 U.S.C. 5, and whether the decision of that court changed the manner in which the State's electors are to be selected, in violation of the legislature's power to designate the manner for selection under Art. II, 1, cl. 2 of the United States Contitution. 531 U.S. ____ (2000).

    On November 8, 2000, the day following the Presidential election, the Florida Division of Elections reported that Governor Bush had received 2,909,135 votes, and respondent Democrat Vice President Albert Gore, Jr., had received 2,907,351, a margin of 1,784 in Governor Bush's favor. Under Fla. Stat. 102.141(4) (2000), because the margin of victory was equal to or less than one-half of one percent of the votes cast, an automatic machine recount occurred. The recount resulted in a much smaller margin of victory for Governor Bush. Vice President Gore then exercised his statutory right to submit written requests for manual recounts to the canvassing board of any county. See 102.166. He requested recounts in four counties: Volusia, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade.

    The parties urged conflicting interpretations of the Florida Election Code respecting the authority of the canvassing boards, the Secretary of State (hereinafter Secretary), and the Elections Canvassing Commission. On November 14, in an action brought by Volusia County, and joined by the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board, Vice President Gore, and the Florida Democratic Party, the Florida Circuit Court ruled that the statutory 7-day deadline was mandatory, but that the Volusia board could amend its returns at a later date. The court further ruled that the Secretary, after "considering all attendant facts and circumstances," App. to Pet. for Cert. 49a, could exercise her discretion in deciding whether to include the late amended returns in the statewide certification.

    The Secretary responded by issuing a set of criteria by which she would decide whether to allow a late filing. The Secretary ordered that, by 2 p.m. the following day, November 15, any county desiring to forward late returns submit a written statement of the facts and circumstances justifying a later filing. Four counties submitted statements and, after reviewing the submissions, the Secretary determined that none justified an extension of the filing deadline. On November 16, the Florida Democratic Party and Vice President Gore filed an emergency motion in the state court, arguing that the Secretary had acted arbitrarily and in contempt of the court's earlier ruling. The following day, the court denied the motion, ruling that the Secretary had not acted arbitrarily and had exercised her discretion in a reasonable manner consistent with the court's earlier ruling. The Democratic Party and Vice President Gore appealed to the First District Court of Appeal, which certified the matter to the Florida Supreme Court. That court accepted jurisdiction and sua sponte entered an order enjoining the Secretary and the Elections Canvassing Commission from finally certifying the results of the election and declaring a winner until further order of that court.

    The Supreme Court, with the expedition requisite for the controversy, issued its decision on November 21, Palm Beach County Canvassing Bd. v. Harris, Nos. SC00-2346, SC00-2348, and SC00-2349 (Nov. 21, 2000), App. to Pet. for Cert. 1a. As the court saw the matter, there were two principal questions: whether a discrepancy between an original machine return and a sample manual recount resulting from the way a ballot has been marked or punched is an "error in vote tabulation" justifying a full manual recount; and how to reconcile what it spoke of as two conflicts in Florida's election laws: (a) between the time frame for conduction a manual recount under Fla. Stat. 102.166 (2000) and the time frame for submitting county returns under 102.111 and 102.112, and (b) between 102.111, which provides that the Secretary "shall ... ignor[e]" late election returns, and 102.112, which provides that she "may ... ignor[e]" such returns.

    With regard to the first issue, the court held that, under the plain text of the statute, a discrepancy between a sample manual recount and machine returns due to the way in which a ballot was punched or marked did constitute an "error in vote tabulation" sufficient to trigger the statutory provisions for a full manual recount.

    With regard to the second issue, the court held that the "shall ... ignor[e]" provision of 102.111 conflicts with the "may ... ignor[e]" provision of 102.112, and that the "may ... ignor[e]" provision controlled. The court turned to the questions whether and when the Secretary may ignore late manual recounts. The court relied in part upon the right to vote set forth in the Declaration of Rights of the Florida Constitution in concluding that late manual recounts could be rejected only under limited circumstances. The court then stated: "[B]ecause of our reluctance to rewrite the Florida Election Code, we conclude that we must invoke the equitable powers of this Court to fashion a remedy...." App. to Pet. for Cert. 37a. The court thus imposed a deadline of November 26, at 5 p.m., for a return of ballot counts. The 7-day deadline of 102.111, assuming it would have applied, was effectively extended by 12 days. The court further directed the Secretary to accept manual counts submitted prior to that deadline.

    As a general rule, this Court defers to a state court's interpretation of a state statute. But in the case of a law enacted by a state legislature applicable not only to elections to state offices, but also to the selection of Presidential electors, the legislature is not acting solely under the authority given it by the people of the State, but by virtue of a direct grand of authority made under Art. II, 1, cl. 2, of the United States Constitution. That provision reads:

    "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress...."
    Although we did not address the same question petitioner raises here, in McPherson v. Blacker, 146 U.S. 1, 25 (1892), we said:
    "[Art. II, 1, cl. 2] does not read that the people or the citizens shall appoint, but that `each State shall'; and if the words `in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct,' had been omitted, it would seem that the legislative power of appointment could not have been successfully questioned in the absence of any provision in the state constitution in that regard. Hence the insertion of those words, while operating as a limitation upon the State in respect of any attempt to circumscribe the legislative power, cannot be held to operate as a limitation on that power itself."
    There are expressions in the opinion of the Supreme Court of Florida that may be read to indicate that it construed the Florida Election Code without regard to the extent to which the Florida Constitution could, considtent with Art. II, 1, cl. 2, "circumscribe the legislative power." The opinion states, for example, that "[t]o the extent that the Legislature may enact laws regulating the electoral process, those laws are valid only if they impose no `unreasonable or unnecessary' restraints on the right of suffrage" guaranteed by the state constitution. App. to Pet. for Cert. 30a. The opinion also states that "[b]ecause election laws are intended to facilitate the right of suffrage, such laws must be liberally construed in favor of the citizens' right to vote...." Ibid.

    In addition, 3 U.S.C. 5 provides in pertinent part:
    "If any State shall have provided, by laws enacted prior to the day fixed for the appointment of the electors, for its final determination of any controversy or contest concerning the appointment of all or any of the electors of such State, by judicial or other methods or procedures, and such determination shall have been made at least six days before the time fixed for the meeting of the electors, such determination made pursuant to such law so existing on said day, and made at least six days prior to said time of meeting of the electors, shall be conclusive, and shall govern in the counting of electoral votes as provided in the Constitution, and as herinafter regulated, so far as the ascertainment of the electors appointed by such State is concerned."
    The parties before us agree that whatever else may be the effect of this section, it creates a "safe harbor" for a State insofar as congressional consideration of its electoral votes is concerned. If the state legislature has provided for final determination of contests or controversies by a law made prior to election day, that determination shall be conclusive if made at least six days prior to said time of meeting of the electors. The Florida Supreme Court cited 3 U.S.C. 1-10 in a footnote of its opinion, App. to Pet. for Cert. 32a, n. 55, but did not discuss 5. Since 5 contains a principle of federal law that would assure finality of the State's determination if made pursuant to a state law in effect before the election, a legislative wish to take advantage of the "safe harbor" would counsel against any construction of the Election Code the Congress might deem to be a change in the law.

    After reviewing the opinion of the Florida Supreme Court, we find "that there is considerable uncertainty as to the precise grounds for the decision." Minnesota v. National Tea Co., 309 U.S. 551, 555 (1940). This is sufficient reason for us to decline at this time to review the federal questions asserted to be present. See ibid.
    "It is fundamental that state courts be left free and unfettered by us in interpreting their state constitutions. But it is equally important that ambiguous or obscure adjudications by state courts do not stand as barriers to a determination by this Court of the validity under the federal constitution of state action. Intelligent exercise of our appellate powers compels us to ask for the elimination of the obscurities and ambiguities from the opinions in such cases."
    Id., at 557.
    Specifically, we are unclear as to the extent to which the Florida Supreme Court saw the Florida Constitution as circumscribing the legislature's authority under Art. II, 1, cl. 2. We are also unclear as to the consideration the Florida Supreme Court accorded to 3 U.S.C. 5. The judgement of the Supreme Court of Florida is therefore vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

    It is so ordered.
  • Also, military men are trained to be highly agressive. Fool.

    Military men are trained to follow orders. Millitary men are trained to do what is in the best interest of their country, too. So since they are trained to keep the nations best interests in mind, should their votes get double counted?

    LK
  • I was going to mention New York as a good place for him to do this. *grin*
  • by Shotgun (30919) on Monday December 04, 2000 @08:18AM (#583165)
    The War of Northern Agression Continues...

    8*)

  • Imagine that the self-declared winner lost the popular vote but won based on some colonial holdover (electoral college) from the nation's past.

    There are two problems with that statement:

    1. Earlier, the Democrats were expected to lose the popular vote, but win on the electoral college.

    2. The electoral college serves to normalize the power distribution. With a straight popular vote, smaller states would get glossed over, with presidential candidates focusing on the population centers. What the electoral college does is guarantees that those smaller states have a voice. The bigger states still wind up with more electoral votes, but the margin between them is reduced.

  • by ghoti (60903) on Monday December 04, 2000 @08:19AM (#583174) Homepage

    Shouldn't this be under "USA" or whatever it is called (the flag). I don't really get the significance of this message for the Internet ...
  • There is a lesson to be learned in this for Americans, although I don't think its the same one that the writer of this (who was probably not who he claims to be, but anyway) intended. What American's should take from this, is that we should not be so quick to judge OTHER countries elections as we often do, since we don't necessarily have a good understanding of what their laws and political climates are. Every single statement in the above post is either purposefully misleading or simply uninformed, meaning that the author is either trying to be inflamitory (which is most likely) or simply does not have enough information to judge. Maybe we should not be so quick to judge in the future either...

  • 1. Imagine that we read of an election occuring anywhere in the third world in which the self-declared winner was the son of the former prime minister and that former prime minister was himself the former head of that nation's secret police (cia).

    Oh yeah, the CIA did such a great job in Afghanistan and for the Iraqi Kurds. They're a great Big Brother-ish organization. Pshaw.

    5. Imagine that that members of that nation's most despised caste, fearing for their lives/livelihoods, turned out in record numbers to vote in near-universal opposition to the self-declared winner's candidacy.

    Okay, first, what kind of jerk are you? Are you saying that Republicans want to kill blacks? (I assume you mean blacks by "most dispised caste" -- I suppose you could mean Jews or rednecks or hillbillies) First off, screw you, Republicans don't want to kill blacks, and you're a facist demagouge to imply so.

    Second, blacks represented 14% of the Floridian population, but represented 16% of the counted votes for Gore. You can take that two ways:

    • The Democrats really got out the black vote (and good for them)!
    • The Democrats manufactured quite a bit of those black votes through fraud

    What you CAN'T do is say that the "most dispised caste" was marginalized.

    8. Imagine that the self-declared winner and his political party opposed a more careful by-hand inspection and re-counting of the ballots in the disputed province or in its most hotly disputed district.

    Okay, this is an out and out lie. The hand-recount counties -- Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade -- were not "hotly contested" or anything like it. They were very comfortably in the Gore column by a significant margin. There were pretty massive "undercounts" in those counties (ballots that did not get counted due to machine error, ballot error, or similar), but there were worse undercounts in other counties -- counties that went Bush and had Republican Canvas Boards. Gore wanted more votes (I don't blame him -- you know good and well that Bush would have done the same), so he focused his staff and media attention on those three Democrat counties.

    Here's the thing -- I agree with this Zimbabwe ministers opinion. We're forever poking our noses into other countries elections (Danny Ortega? Anyone remember him?), and our noses DON'T BELONG THERE! We wouldn't put up with Saudi Arabian princes coming over here exclaiming, "By Allah, you are not allowing each man's seven wives vote!" -- and they shouldn't put up with American busybodies getting all hot and bothered about their elections.

    Here's the trick to avoid American interventionism in your country's elections -- Don't accept our money. Those IMF and World Bank and UN loans are (by and large) funded from American dollars. Our government gives your government sometimes millions, sometimes billions of dollars (OUR dollars). If you take our money, expect our pointy American noses and large American asses getting in your shit -- we think that we've bought the right to do so.

    (Proud Harry Browne supporter and voter -- "See, We Told You So!")

  • Nixon *did* seek a recount. Quite a few, actually. Didn't really give up until Dec 19.

    Of course, he did the whole public "I accept defeat" deal, but he by no means backed down gracefully. He even went so far as to claim that Ike had encouraged him to "look into Illinois" but that he declined "for the good of the country". That's how Nixon describes it, at least. In reality, Ike withdrew support for a recount after 1 day.

    See The fallacy of Nixon's graceful exit [salon.com] at salon for more info.

  • Anyway Hemos is already straighting his position as Bush's next campaign manager...

    But he must be careful now, as Gore may now sue him for giving too much Slashdot effects on "And the winner is Bush"...
  • What they decided is really rather simple. That is, if the State Supreme Court makes the case Federal Issue because it is a Federal Election then the State Supreme Court should have referred its justification under USC5. Since the State Supreme Court did not make clear any argument under USC5 and the USSC agrees that it is probably a Federal issue nor is it clearly an issue where the State Supreme Court has circumscribed the authority of the State Legislature then the State Supreme Court must artculate its reasoning better. In fact the USSC points to the case law in BLACKER that makes use of USC5.
  • States rights do not include the ability to violate federal law.
    You're a political scientist? First of all the civil war was fought over the idea that states could violate federal law (nullification doctrine) since, according to Bush et al, states give up a lot of their power for the federal government to exist in the first place, and although the war was settled, the issue never really was. Now, on to the matter of the court. It didn't really overstep its bounds at all- it did not override the legislature but instead pointed out that under existing, preset florida law, the certification deadline COULD be extended as needed. Hence there's no surprise that "SCOTUS" (as in supreme court of the united states, not "beam me up scotus") sent the Florida ruling back- it said that the REASONS were weak. Nothing about the ruling being unconstitutional. I realize it's hard to be objective, but please: It's hard enough getting accurate information about politics on Slashdot (not that I try) without having to worry about people whose only news comes from Bush's campaign hq. For these and other political points, why not watch some of the roundtable discussions they have? CNN has a pretty good one, though the name evades me now- Hardball on MSNBC also raises a lot of points and it's fun to figure out whether the host is a democrat or a republican on any given day. That said, please TRY to remain objective if you're going to feign knowledge. There's a precedent for every point out there and I'm not surprised by the ambiguity of the ruling.
    BTW, I'm not a political scientist. I just know what I'm saying.
  • by gorsh (75930) on Monday December 04, 2000 @08:20AM (#583197)
    What the Supreme Court sent back was not a unanimous ruling, but an unsigned ruling, meaning that we have no idea how many of the justices supported the decision. It's extremely likely, in fact that this was a bittrly fought split decision.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't see how you think that this transfers more power to the federal government. First of all, it is a federal office (presidency). But that's not even the point.
    The point is that the Florida Supreme Court attempted to re-write the laws passed by the Florida Legislature. If the court (any court) is allowed to do this...look out, we are all in trouble.
    It is this system of checks and balances that keeps us all sane. Remember that the next time you have to appear in court that at least the judge can't go changing the rules on you!
  • by vex24 (126288) on Monday December 04, 2000 @08:21AM (#583202) Homepage
    Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!
  • by smarner (212673) on Monday December 04, 2000 @09:39AM (#583203)
    IAAL, but more importantly, I can read. 95% of the slashdotters who have posted on this subject have obviously not even bothered to read the short order issued by the Supreme Court (7 pages). (Of course, based on the teaser for this story, it doesn't look like Hemos read it either.) 1. The order was issued "PER CURIAM" which means "by the court." Black's Law Dictionary defines "PER CURIAM" further: A phrase used to distinguish an opinion of the whole court from an opinion written by any one judge. Sometimes it denotes an opinion written by the chief justice or presiding judge, or to a brief announcement of the disposition of a case by court not accompanied by a written opinion. 2. Although the Supreme Court remanded (sent back) the decision to the Florida Supreme Court, it made clear that the Florida Supreme Court could NOT rely upon some of the grounds cited in the opinion - - like the right of suffrage the Florida Supreme Court found in the Flordia Constitution. But it remains possible that the Florida Supreme Court could write (although it probably couldn't do it with a straight face), that it was merely interpreting conflicting state statutory provisions, and that as a matter of statutory interpretation it determined that the deadline was flexible, etc. Why hasn't anyone in the media bothered to point out how ridiculous some of the logic in the Florida Supreme Court decision was? The court found a conflict in two provisions: one that said the Secretary of State SHALL disregard late ballots, and another saying the she MAY disregard such ballots. How can anyone rationally say that the way to resolve this supposed conflict is to combine "MAY" and "SHALL" into "CANNOT!??"

  • In his editorial comment, Hemos stated:
    They've ruled against the Florida Supreme Court, meaning that Bush is the winner, insofar that hand-counted ballots won't count. What's interesting here is that inadverently, GWB's case has transferred a significant amount of power from the States to the Federal Government
    Perhaps I shouldn't say this, but the editorial staff of Slashdot have as much business commenting on complex Supreme Court decisions concerning federalism, constitutional and statutory construction as I have commenting on the Linux kernel -- i.e., not much.

    First, the U.S. Supreme Court's slip opinion, which I posted above, does not reverse the opinion of the Florida Supreme Court, it instead vacates and remands the decision in order to obtain clarification. The U.S. Supreme Court specifically states:
    Specifically, we are unclear as to the extent to which the Florida Supreme Court saw the Florida Constitution as circumscribing the legislature' s authority under Art. II, 1, cl. 2. We are also unclear as to the consideration the Florida Supreme Court accorded to 3 U. S. C. 5. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida is therefore vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
    Thus, even this specific matter is far from over. The Florida Supreme Court could clarify its decision, make it clear that the Florida Supreme Court saw the Florida Constitution does not circumscribe the legislature' s authority under Art. II, 1, cl. 2 of the U.S. Constitution, and reach the same result, which the U.S. Supreme Court could then review.

    Secondly, that statement that the "case has transferred a significant amount of power from the States to the Federal Government," is simply wrong. The Supreme Court's decision is extremely narrow, and deals with the rare (and perhaps unique) situation where the U.S. Constitution delegates federal power to a state legislature. The U.S. Supreme Court took great pains to make sure that this case does not effect other federalism issues and Supreme Court precedents.

  • Well it looks like George W's brother and Katherine Harris succeeded in undermining democracy.

    Yes they did, and good for them, because the US is a republic, not a democracy, and that is PRECISELY the issue in this case.

    The democrats, true to their name, believe that the US is a democracy and that "the right to vote" for president transcends all else. Unfortunately for them, there is no right to vote in a presidential election other than that created by statutory enactment of the state legislature.

    In particular under Florida's election statute, your vote "may be ignored" if it isn't expressed as a machine readable ballot and if an *optional* manual recount doesn't find it within 7 days. Scalia demolished the "right to a recount" idea during the oral arguments by reading the statue.

    The Florida Supreme Court said that ignoring such votes violates the right to sufferage, but we can know see that this statute defines and creates all aspects of the limited right to vote. Once you chop off all extra-statutory avenues to recognize a conflicting concept of voting rights, the Florida Supreme Court's opinion crumbles.

    The beauty of today's order is that it forces the Florida Court to try to ground their bogus concept of voting rights back in the statute that they invalidated because of it. Today's order is a brilliant salvo -- they avoid looking political, but ennunciate principles that assure the result.

    They sort of said to SCOFL "Demonstrate how your perpetual motion machine works again without using the secret power supply that is hidden under the table." It's almost sadistic: everyone will now look to SCOFL as they try to demonstrate the impossible.
  • well, I guess new media and old media are both subject to premature ejaculation when it comes to headlines...

    a great collection of recent premature headlines related to bush winning can be found here [ebay.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Your news is false. The Supreme Court did NOT overturn the Florida Court, but remanded the case back to them for clarification of their reasoning, as CNN and the Washington Post are now reporting. Legal terms have specific meanings. Learn them before you throw them around.
  • I understand China is sending the U.S. 50,000 cases of Viagra.

    They heard we can't get an election...
  • {soapbox mode on}If we would pay more attention to what the document actually says, the feds would not own us to the extent that they do. I could go on and on about this, but Washington has no business doing most of the things that it now does, and the Fouding Fathers of this nation never intended that the present abuses of power that are the norm these days would never occur.

    Correction. The founders CERTAINLY foresaw the current abuses, and the Constitution was an effort to mitigate them. Jefferson, Franklin, and others had some choice quotes on the subject. It is ironic that the courts pervert the Constitution to reach the ends of the people that appointed them. (Honestly, who could EVER construe the 2nd ammendment as being a right reserved to the STATES?)

  • by Chester K (145560) on Monday December 04, 2000 @10:18AM (#583222) Homepage

    A summary of the State of the Nation [ihatelinux.com]
    (http://www.ihatelinux.com/images/TIME_cover.jpg)

  • According to the actual decision [akamai.net], Governor George W. Bush ... filed a petition for certiorari to review the Florida Supreme Court decision. (The above link to the decision on MSNBC spaz's out due to junkbuster.) A petition for certiorari is a request for the Supreme Court to review the decision. The decision by the SC was that the Florida court wasn't clear in their decision and needed to revisit it. The Florida court can essentially write a new decision, ruling the same way but answering the SC's specific questions as to the grounds of their decision. If they do so, the SC may either accept or reject the decision.
  • How has the court transferred power to the federal governement? THEYDIDNOToverturn the Florida Supreme Court. They gave them the chance to explain their ruling without any federal influence. If the Florida supreme court used the U.S. constitution or a federal law as the basis for their decision then the Supreme Court will examine it, if they only used state law then the supreme court will not look at it.
  • Let's be clear here... I indeed did the ruling, and I refer you to the last paragraph. "Specifically, we [The SCOTUS] are unclear as to the extent to which the Florida Supreme Court saw the Florida Constitution as circumscribing the legislature's authority under Art. II, 1, cl.2."

    Which is exactly what I pointed out... the SCOTUS is asking the Florida Supreme Court to justify their actions. While it isn't throwing the ruling out, it is clearing indicating that the Florida Supreme Court behaved in a manner inconsistant with Constitutional law.

    Don't accuse someone of talking out of their ass unless you've got the facts to back it up.
  • The Democrats want it both ways -- flexibility when counting ballots that favor them, and inflexibility when it favors the Republicans. And the Republicans want it both ways too -- flexibility when counting ballots that favor them, and inflexibility when it favors the Democrats. That's why I'm proud to have voted for neither of them. Hypocrisy gets you everywhere, honesty gets you 2% of the vote.
  • I hope you're kidding. This Guardian article is based on the plaintiff's claims. Basically, the NAACP issued a press release, and the Guardian printed it as fact. Pretty sloppy journalism. My high school journalism teacher would've failed me for doing this.

    The Florida black population came out in DROVES this election year. The Democrats did a great job in getting blacks to the polls (some say too great -- apparantly a few severely retarded blacks and black criminals voted as well) -- 14% of the FL population is black. 16% of Gore's support were "black votes" (as if votes from blacks are bound up and delivered to Jesse Jackson to distribute or something).

    I'm sure there were instances of questionable behavior in FL on both sides, Dems and Reps. It's only because the election is so close is this news. If somebody comes up with a story in National Review that claims that Democrats were tossing Republican votes in the crapper, will you trumpet this as a sign that Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are undermining democracy? No? Then shut up.

  • by aozilla (133143) on Monday December 04, 2000 @01:42PM (#583243) Homepage
    That's not the way I read the polls. "Fifty-seven percent say Gore should concede the election, about the same as the 60 percent on Nov. 26, the night of the certification.... At the same time, 57 percent in this ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll say the two counties that didn't complete the hand counts that Gore requested -- Miami-Dade and Palm Beach -- should do so, and should have those tallies counted in the final total. That's the central issue in Gore's contest of the Florida results, being heard in Tallahassee. This isn't a change in opinion; back on Nov. 16 about the same number, 56 percent, favored including hand counts in the final tally."

    The fact that many Gore supporters want Gore to concede does not seem to me to be that they don't agree with Gore, just that they feel that he isn't going to win. Just as if Bush were holding a gun to the head of the Democratic Party, demanding the presidency, many Gore supporters would be agree with the VP, but hope he concedes for the sake of the party.
  • They run against federal law insisting that the rules of the election cannot be changed after the election. Essentially, the USSC insisted that the FLSC had not clearly shown how its decision did not violate FL state law. Since such violation would trigger a violation of federal law concerning the submission of electors, it is possible that congress could refuse the FL electors based simply on this particular decision of the FLSC, so, even if the USSC had refused to intervene despite the fact that it has clear jurisdiction, the congress could throw out the FL electors based on this law. IANAL, IMHO, etc., FLSC acted very irresponsibly in their decision in the first place and the USSC has actually done them a favor by pointing this out...
  • From an article in which a Zimbabwe politician was quoted as saying that children should study this event closely for it shows that election fraud is not only a third world phenomenon...

    "1. Imagine that we read of an election occuring anywhere in the third world in which the self-declared winner was the son of the former prime minister and that former prime minister was himself the former head of that nation's secret police (cia).

    2. Imagine that the self-declared winner lost the popular vote but won based on some old colonial holdover (electoral college) from the nation's pre-democracy past.

    3. Imagine that the self-declared winner's 'victory' turned on disputed votes cast in a province governed by his brother!

    4. Imagine that the poorly drafted ballots of one district, a district heavily favoring the self-declared winner's opponent, led thousands of voters to vote for the wrong candidate.

    5. Imagine that that members of that nation's most despised caste, fearing for their lives/livelihoods, turned out in record numbers to vote in near-universal opposition to the self-declared winner's candidacy.

    6. Imagine that hundreds of members of that most- despised caste were intercepted on their way to the polls by state police operating under the authority of the self-declared winner's brother.

    7. Imagine that six million people voted in the disputed province and that the self-declared winner's 'lead' was only 327 votes. Fewer, certainly, than the vote counting machines' margin of error.

    8. Imagine that the self-declared winner and his political party opposed a more careful by-hand inspection and re-counting of the ballots in the disputed province or in its most hotly disputed district.

    9. Imagine that the self-declared winner, himself a governor of a major province, had the worst human rights record of any province in his nation and actually led the nation in executions.

    10. Imagine that a major campaign promise of the self- declared winner was to appoint like-minded human rights violators to lifetime positions on the high court of that nation.

    None of us would deem such an election to be representative of anything other than the self-declared winner's will-to-power. All of us, I imagine, would wearily turn the page thinking that it was another sad tale of pitiful pre- or anti-democracy peoples in some strange elsewhere."


    --
    Remove Me-Kilt

  • Those hits come from people who want to read and post on a story, and the simple fact is: on slashdot, controversial stories (ie misleading, flamewar topics, etc) generate hits. So an easy method of making money with slashdot is with controversial stories; one way to do that is have Hemos act like a fool and post something misleading....

    I don't think this is relevant at all. The story would have been read regardless of whether or not Hemos had got it right. How about this potential writeup:

    "Well, the United States Supreme Court has given their "ruling" concerning the Florida Supreme Court. They've temporarily set aside the ruling that extended the deadline and required hand recounts. This could be a final step towards declaring Bush the winner, or it could simply tie things up even longer in Florida Courts."

    That would be more accurate, and generate just as many posts (minus the 5 or 10 "Hemos is an idiot" posts). But if you don't believe me, here's one that would generate even more posts, and still be more accurate than the original:

    "Well, the United States Supreme Court has given their "ruling" concerning the Florida Supreme Court. They've only temporarily set aside the Florida court's ruling, so they might catch a lot of heat for potentially prolonging the proceedings. However, that won't at all compare to the heat they're about to catch over today's other decision: they still refuse to hear any case over Natalie Portman and hot grits. A Beowulf cluster of Al Gores still hasn't issued a statement, and the Penis Bird couldn't be reached for comment."
  • *ahem* just like to point out that we Canadians had an election last week, and something amazing happened.

    We knew who our Prime Minister was, ON THE SAME DAY. (-:
    --

    Anyway, I'm not saying that this whole presidential thing is a media creation, but does anyone else notice that every few months, the media jump on the bandwagon for some cause, and that's all the mass media will talk about for the next few weeks? Every time I flip through the american networks (most of our television is crap), I'm bombarded by special after in-depth-report after late-breaking-news after 60-minute-exclusive of some cause. Gulf War, Elian Gonzalez, OJ, Clinton Impeachment, etc.

    Sure, these are often important issues, but it's like "Hey Dan, what should we talk about tonight. -I dunno, what happened today? -Nothing important. -OK, wanna rehash the Election Results? I think I can paraphrase last night's coverage so that the sheeple won't notice what's going on."
  • by Logic Bomb (122875) on Monday December 04, 2000 @08:24AM (#583264)

    Damnit Hemos...to be perfectly honest, political coverage on /. is horrid. Anytime a post-election item has been put on the main page, it's always accompanied by a totally uninformed blanket statement like "Bush is the winner." It's STILL not over -- to be precise, the Supreme Court decision was that the justices were not convinced that the Florida Supreme Court could rely on the Florida State Constitution for what they did, and said the Florida court needed to find a different way to justify its decision, like statutory clarification. One possible (and likely) scenario is that the Florida Supreme Court will look for a way to rewrite its opinion, probably just by removing any references to the state constitution so that it is merely deciding a conflict between two seemingly contradictory laws. This is beside the fact that simply reversing the Florida Supreme Court's decision does not end the election anyway because there are proceedings in other courts that remain uneffected.

    Anyway, PLEASE don't attempt to be a political reporter! It can be very misleading if you don't know all the details. Just link to an AP story or something and let it be.

  • Florida Code [state.fl.us]

    For the love of god, read the damn thing.

    I encourage you and other Republicans to be vigorous in your explanations to the people of Florida that they do not, in fact, have any right to vote for President; that right is reserved for the State Legislature. While technically true on US constitutional grounds, all 50 states have delegated, via their election laws, the right to choose the electors for president to their populations, via direct popular vote in the state.

    You write cleanly, but your quoting of Florida election law engages in the same selective quotation that virtually all Republican reading of the law engages in. I therefore encourage you to download and read the Florida election code for yourself. Read it in its entirety; don't simply dive straight for the Republican salvation of 102.111. 102.111 must be taken in context, particularly with regards to 102.112.

    Florida law sections 102.012 through 102.151 deal with the normal course of an election in Florida. The remaining sections deal with what to do when there is a problem. Everybody seems to fault the Florida code, when in fact it seems quite clear to me.

    You state that a vote count "may be ignored" in Florida if not returned within the 7 day period. Competent reading of this section as a whole indicates that, while the deadline is highly desirable, it is optional. Late, normal returns are subject to either a fine ($200 per day, per canvassing board member, paid out of personal funds) for tardiness. It says nothing about applying the 7 day rule to manual recounts. This is a key distinction that seems to not have been made elsewhere, and it perplexes me that it has not. The 7 day rule for normal returns is entirely sensible; subjecting the recounts to that same rule is foolish.

    So what does the Florida law say about recounts? It certainly doesn't say that recounts are optional. The language in the law is a little convoluted, so try to stay with me. It says that in the event of a protest, the canvassing board MAY, at its discretion, perform a manual recount of ballots in at least three precincts, of at least 1% of the votes. The canvassing board must then compare the results of the recount to the original count, and if it is found that the difference may result in a change in the outcome of the election, they SHALL a) correct the error and recount the remaining precincts OR b) request the department of state to verify the tabulation software OR c) manually recount all ballots. Confusion in interpreting this statute largely rests in those persons that have trouble separating the mention of the manual sample recount from the consequential recount of all the ballots.

    So that is that. There is just no way you can read this statute to say anything other than the following: A candidate can protest the vote. A canvassing board can choose to do a sample recount. If the sample recount shows a difference that could change the outcome, the canvassing board MUST recount. And doesn't that make sense? The Republican position is that you can't have a manual recount unless the machines have had an error of some kind.

    The Republicans out there aren't going to believe me, probably haven't read the statute themselves, and might find out by following the link at the top that they're wrong. So I might as well quote it directly and force them to look at it:

    102.166 Protest of election returns; procedure.--

    (1) Any candidate for nomination or election, or any elector qualified to vote in the election related to such candidacy, shall have the right to protest the returns of the election as being erroneous by filing with the appropriate canvassing board a sworn, written protest.

    (2) Such protest shall be filed with the canvassing board prior to the time the canvassing board certifies the results for the office being protested or within 5 days after midnight of the date the election is held, whichever occurs later.

    (3) Before canvassing the returns of the election, the canvassing board shall:

    (a) When paper ballots are used, examine the tabulation of the paper ballots cast.

    (b) When voting machines are used, examine the counters on the machines of nonprinter machines or the printer-pac on printer machines. If there is a discrepancy between the returns and the counters of the machines or the printer-pac, the counters of such machines or the printer-pac shall be presumed correct.

    (c) When electronic or electromechanical equipment is used, the canvassing board shall examine precinct records and election returns. If there is a clerical error, such error shall be corrected by the county canvassing board. If there is a discrepancy which could affect the outcome of an election, the canvassing board may recount the ballots on the automatic tabulating equipment.

    (4)(a) Any candidate whose name appeared on the ballot, any political committee that supports or opposes an issue which appeared on the ballot, or any political party whose candidates' names appeared on the ballot may file a written request with the county canvassing board for a manual recount. The written request shall contain a statement of the reason the manual recount is being requested.

    (b) Such request must be filed with the canvassing board prior to the time the canvassing board certifies the results for the office being protested or within 72 hours after midnight of the date the election was held, whichever occurs later.

    (c) The county canvassing board may authorize a manual recount. If a manual recount is authorized, the county canvassing board shall make a reasonable effort to notify each candidate whose race is being recounted of the time and place of such recount.

    (d) The manual recount must include at least three precincts and at least 1 percent of the total votes cast for such candidate or issue. In the event there are less than three precincts involved in the election, all precincts shall be counted. The person who requested the recount shall choose three precincts to be recounted, and, if other precincts are recounted, the county canvassing board shall select the additional precincts.

    (5) If the manual recount indicates an error in the vote tabulation which could affect the outcome of the election, the county canvassing board shall:

    (a) Correct the error and recount the remaining precincts with the vote tabulation system;

    (b) Request the Department of State to verify the tabulation software; or

    (c) Manually recount all ballots.

    (6) Any manual recount shall be open to the public.

    (7) Procedures for a manual recount are as follows:

    (a) The county canvassing board shall appoint as many counting teams of at least two electors as is necessary to manually recount the ballots. A counting team must have, when possible, members of at least two political parties. A candidate involved in the race shall not be a member of the counting team.

    (b) If a counting team is unable to determine a voter's intent in casting a ballot, the ballot shall be presented to the county canvassing board for it to determine the voter's intent.

    (8) If the county canvassing board determines the need to verify the tabulation software, the county canvassing board shall request in writing that the Department of State verify the software.

    (9) When the Department of State verifies such software, the department shall:

    (a) Compare the software used to tabulate the votes with the software filed with the Department of State pursuant to s. 101.5607; and

    (b) Check the election parameters.

    (10) The Department of State shall respond to the county canvassing board within 3 working days.

  • Do you honestly think that Bush's conduct has been any better?

    Yes. His position has consistently been that since there is no evidence of voter machine malfunctions, the machine recount is more impartial and fair than the manual recounts. Gore's position is "every vote must count...except those of the military...and really only the votes in heavily Democratic counties...and we'll make up the criteria for counting as we go along".

    Personally, if Bush does ultimately win, I think the real winner is Hillary Clinton. I think Bush has shot himself in the foot for a 2nd term with his conduct. Gore may not be electable now due to public opinion (read: media opinion) -- and there really arent any other democrats of her prominance and national recognition/appeal. So if she proves to do well in her first couple years in the Senate, I wouldnt rule out her candidacy.

    I hope you're right, because she would lose spectacularly. She is an extremely polarizing candidate and would provide enormous motivation for the Republicans. Remember, she ran for Senate in New York, the most liberal state she could find, and she only won by 11 points against a relatively unknown candidate while Gore carried the state by 25.

  • I repectfully disagree (New concept on Slashdot, I apologize for its introduction)

    The US Supreme Court has essentially called the Fl. Supreme Court into its office and said-

    "You screwed up. You made this up as the best that you could from what you were narrow-mindedly considering, but you kinda overlooked something as simple as Article II Section II of the Constitution. So publicly, we won't say that you were wrong. We will give you a chance to dig up something to justify your ruling, but until then youe decision is vacated (gone!)"

  • This doesn't give the election to Bush. It just makes the contest phase for difficult for Gore. The contest is still going to continue, but now it will be that much harder for Gore to make his case.

    --
  • The only way a country can be divided this badly, is if the only options are equally stupid.

  • This is being played as a victory for Bush but the opinion is really more ambiguous.

    Really all that happened is that the Supreme Court asked Florida's Supreme Court to more specifically address the Federal statute at issue. The Florida decision was not reversed. A reversal would end the matter decisively. Instead, Florida just has to take another look at the issue.

    MSNBC got it right:

    "After reviewing the opinion of the Florida Supreme Court, we find that there is considerable uncertainty as to the precise grounds for the decision," the nation's high court wrote.

    The seven-page decision sent the case back to the Florida court for "further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion."

  • Take a minute and look at the issues still outstanding at the time this story was posted.

    - The opinion by the US Supreme Court just sends the case back to the Florida Supreme Court for reconsideration and clarification. If the FL SC justifies their actions a little better, then the ruling is not vacated.

    - There is still a lawsuit pending on whether or not to include thousands of ballots in some of the counties where Republican party officials requested absentee ballots instead of the voter or their family, who are the only ones who can legally request a ballot. If the absentee ballots are thrown out in that county, there could be a net loss of ~3500 votes for Bush.

    It's been said before, and it will be said again, but the Slashdot editors need to be a little more judicious on their decisions to post articles, especially when all of the facts are not clearly understood or presented.
  • Unfortunately, as the article states, this long arguement over Florida will continue as Gore continues to try and get extra recounts. Now, I am not really a supporter of either camp. I just want this to be over.

    I'm pretty much in agreement with you, with one caveat: I don't just want this over. I want this done right. I'm not convinced that either side is particularly right, and there's enough poorly written law in the matter that I honestly believe it merits the court proceedings we're all being subject to.

    To just want it over, though, is a tack that I try to avoid at all costs. Putting completion ahead of resolution tends to break more than it fixes.

    $ man reality

  • I'm sorry, but I have to take issue with the moderation of my posting as "Redundant". I spent about an hour retyping the entire decision for the benefit of those without the ability to read the PDF directly. I did this before the link was added to MSNBC's page with an HTML-ized version of the decision. Unlike that page, I retained italics and block-quote indentation from the original PDF, so this version is more readable than the MSNBC one. Other formatting was lost due to Slashdot's restrictions on HTML in comments.

    Lest anyone think the posting was mere karma-whoring, I might point out that I'm already frozen for having a karma rating over 50. (Actually, it just dropped a point because of this unfair moderation, despite the balancing "Informative" moderation...)
  • by commandant (208059) on Monday December 04, 2000 @02:34PM (#583298)

    The US Supreme Court is not asking Florida for more information, and they have issued a final ruling. Read the decision yourself.

    They didn't overturn the decision, that's true. They vacated it. What's the difference, you ask?

    Overturning a judge is turning to him and saying, "You made the wrong decision. We're making the decision for you." The overturned judge gets no say in what's going on.

    Vacating a decision, however, is turning to the judge (or in our case, the Florida Supreme Court) and saying, "You made the wrong decision. Make a new one that doesn't conflict with our opinion."

    This is not a request for new information. This is not a "temporary" ruling pending further information. The US Supreme Court couldn't care less why the Floridians ruled the way they did.

    What the Supreme Court said is that they don't understand why the Florida court made its decision, and that the decision is wrong. Therefore, the Florida Supreme Court must go back and correct its mistake.

    That's the final ruling.

    There are potential situations, however, where the Fla. Court makes a new decision which is inconsistent with the US Court ruling, whereby Bush or another party may take up the matter with the US Supreme Court. That isn't a reconsideration of the present opinion, though; that's a separate legal matter which deals with a court's noncompliance with the US Supreme Court order.

    If you don't believe me, look at the bottom line of the ruling: "It is so ordered." If they were requesting more information, they wouldn't issue an order. The last line would be, "This decision is valid pending further information from the Florida Supreme Court."

    Sheesh, get the damn news straight already.

    I do not belong in the spam.redirect.de domain.

  • Right. Set aside and overturned are not the same. I think the state should be allowed to rule with intervention at the federal level only when and if the state shows that it cannot come to grips with the problem by the deadline for the electoral college vote. It is the state of Florida's election laws that are being examined and that isn't a federal issue unless the laws run cross-grain to the US Constitution.
  • Imagine how sad it would be for us if that self-proclaimed winner could roll into the capital with his troops and take over the government without the marvelous due process that we're seeing in the courts.

    This election might not sound so great when described in cheap sound bites, but as an example of mechanisms of the US government and the rule of law, and of the respect that US citizens have for its government, there can be nothing better.

    In the end, we will have a properly elected president according to the laws of the nation. Those laws may be quickly revised to prevent a recurrence of these precedings, but those laws are all we have, and all we can do right now is exercise them.
  • by bobwyman (175558) on Monday December 04, 2000 @12:04PM (#583310) Homepage
    Given that msnbc is the primary source of information for most of the commentators here, much of this converstation isn't surprising... www.FindLaw.com provides complete and timely PDF's of all original filings, briefs, etc. as well as mp3's etc of testimony. Take a look at:
    http://news.findlaw.com/legalnews/us/election/elec tion2000.html
    They have every filing from every legal action related to the issue. Today's SCOTUS ruling can be found at:
    http://news.findlaw.com/cnn/docs/election2000/usc0 0836final.pdf

    bob wyman
  • Gore invented the internet therefore its relevant

  • The U.S. Supreme Court could then review the new decision by the Florida Supreme Court.
    Right, but the USSC isn't going to just let the FSC move a few words around in some disingenuous attempt at keeping their same conclusions without seriously reworking their arguments.


    The USSC was obviously trying to both give the FSC a chance to save face while also enforcing conformance with the US Constitution and Federal Statutes. If the FSC doesn't back track a bit and try to avoid the appearance of changing Florida statutory law after the election, their decision will be vacated again or maybe even permanently reversed.
    Your analysis is probably incorrect. The Florida Supreme Court could probably, upon reconsideration, clarify its opinion, satisfy the concerns of the U.S. Supreme Court, and reach the same result. I will explain why and how below.

    The key passage of the U.S. Supreme Court's slip opinion is where it states:
    Specifically, we are unclear as to the extent to which the Florida Supreme Court saw the Florida Constitution as circumscribing the legislature' s authority under Art. II, 1, cl. 2. We are also unclear as to the consideration the Florida Supreme Court accorded to 3 U. S. C. 5. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida is therefore vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
    First, the Florida Supreme Court would have to rule, "after careful reconsideration" :), that the authority delegated to the Florida legislature by Art. II, 1, cl. 2 of the U.S. Constitution is in no way adversely effected by, subject to, or circumscribed by the Florida Constitution.

    Secondly, the Florida Supreme Court would have to make sure, as indicated above, that its new ruling complies with the Federal Statute 3 U.S.C. 5. As the U.S. Supreme Court's slip opinion states:
    3 U. S. C. 5 provides in pertinent part: "If any State shall have provided, by laws enacted prior to the day fixed for the appointment of the electors, for its final determination of any controversy or contest concerning the appointment of all or any of the electors of such State, by judicial or other methods or procedures, and such determination shall have been made at least six days before the time fixed for the meeting of the electors, such determination made pursuant to such law so existing on said day, and made at least six days prior to said time of meeting of the electors, shall be conclusive, and shall govern in the counting of the electoral votes as provided in the Constitution, and as hereinafter regulated, so far as the ascertainment of the electors appointed by such State is concerned.
    In order to comply with this section, the Florida Supreme Court need only make it clear that the state "laws enacted prior to the day fixed for the appointment of the electors," include two components: (a) the "hard" deadline the Republicans are relying upon; and (b) the statutory provisions for both machine and hand recounts. Next, the Florida Supreme Court states that there is: (1) statutory ambiguity not in the "hard" deadline alone, but when the statutes [(a) and (b)] are construed together; and/or (2) a conflict in the statutes [(a) and (b)] in that it is not possible to comply with the "hard" deadline and still have a recount, and particularly a hand recount, as provided by statute. A basic and frequently used principle of statutory construction is that when there is either an apparent ambiguity or conflict in a statutory scheme, the court should do its best interpret all of the statutes in the scheme in such a way that none of them is rendered meaningless, superfluous, or impotent. The Florida Supreme Court would then conclude that, as the highest Court in the state of Florida, and exercising its duty and power to interpret Florida law, that the "hard" certification deadline is subject to the right to machine or hand recount. In other words, there can be a machine or hand recount after the certification, if the requirements for a recount are satisfied. The Florida Supreme Court could point out that such a result is not at all dissimilar from the analogous result that nobody has challenged -- i.e., that there can be a challenge after certification. The Florida Supreme Court could also argue that to rule otherwise would nullify and vitiate the statutory right to recount.

    This result would satisfy both Art. II, 1, cl. 2 of the U.S. Constitution, and the Federal Statute 3 U.S.C. 5. In other words, it would satisfy the federal questions raised by the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court does not have any power to challenge the Florida Supreme Court's interpretation of state law.

    You might complain that the Florida Supreme Court would not be interpreting the law, but instead "making it." If you read the U.S. Supreme Court's slip opinion (which I posted below) that was not precisely its concern. (The U.S. Supreme Court's federal question concerns are specified and addressed above.) Further, courts "make law" all of the time when they interpret statutes. The U.S. Supreme Court knows it because it does it all of the time. For the U.S. Supreme Court to call into question the right and power of the Florida Supreme Court to interpret state law would only serve to undermine the doctrines of statutory interpretation and judicial review, and, most importantly, undermine the U.S. Supreme Court's right and power to interpret federal statutes and constitutional provisions.

  • Gore's nation-wide lead is an order of magnitude higher as a percentage of the vote. I'm quite aware that there are more votes in the nation than there are in FL. However, the nation-wide lead is ~200K/100M ~= 0.2%. The FL lead is (being generous) ~1K/6M ~= 0.017%.

    I think you are quite right to guess that Bush would have conceded if it was up to the popular vote. It's one thing to ask a few counties for a recount to make up a few hundred votes. I don't think anyone actually believes that the Republican's would have the entire country recount hoping that they could make up almost a quarter million votes. Is 0.2% a slim margin? Sure is. Would anybody actually try to make that up with a recount? I seriously doubt it on a national scale.

    I'm also guessing by your last comment that you think Gore would ask for a recount to make up 200,000 votes. Why is that? Because he is winning the popular vote, winning the electoral vote, but is losing in a problem-ridden, poorly run election by two one-hundredths of a percent? I don't understand why people give the Democrats a hard time for wanting to try and get an accurate recount. I find it more interesting why the Republicans are trying so hard to prevent one!

    While we're at it, you can blame me! I voted for Ralph Nader ;-)>
  • We've discovered that our vote counting processes aren't exact, when it came down to a very close result. We need some improvements in the mechanics of vote-counting, but we also need significant improvements in election security. Right now, in most jurisdictions, it's very easy to vote multiple times. How many of you who voted were asked to produce an ID?

    You point to the probablility of voter fraud in Florida, and yet you feel that the best solution is to drop everything and declare a winner now to keep us from having to wait longer? You would willingly validate fraudulent votes cast in a presidential election in the name of expedience? How on earth can you come to such a conclusion?

    We have a result that's within the margin of error. For the good of the country, it should be closed here.

    There is no permissible margin of error for an official election.

    That said, this result doesn't fall anywhere near a reasonable estimate of a margin of error for the Florida balloting system. Given that the difference between the candidates is less than 1% of the total ballots cast but incontestably invalidated due to voter error (i.e. double-votes in the same race,) I cannot bring myself to say with a straight face that either candidate has won Florida. If you hold the current official tally against the total number of voters in Florida, you find that the difference is well below 0.02% of the total vote. How can you possibly consider this an acceptable margin of error, given the wild inaccuracies of the Florida balloting system?

    Gore is no more entitled to the State of Florida than Bush is; though I'm not convinced that recounts are the answer, I'm equally unconvinced that declaring Bush victor toute suite is correct. The situation in Florida is a genuine tie, and neither candidate can justly claim victory. Thus, it should become a matter for the courts.

    My hope is that more of this will be heard by Supreme Court. Of all the players in this affair, they are the least corruptable, the least partisan, and the most rational minds available to determine how to deal with this unfortunate and messy situation in Florida. I don't trust the elected officials of the state of Florida any farther than I can throw them, party lines aside. The Florida political scene has a long and proud tradition of corruption, and every player involved is doing a wonderful job of toeing their respective party lines. (Ironically, the Florida politician I have the most respect for is Jeb Bush, who has done as good a job as he can to remove himself from the picture.) I place a bit more faith in the Florida Supreme Court, but realize that there is a long standing vendetta between the Florida courts and the Florida legistlature that taints their actions to some degree. Similar situation at the national level--I challenge you to find more than a scant handful of party politicians who dare stray far from their respective mantras.

    The group most capable of acting in an unbiased, non-partisan fashion is the Supreme Court. Though I don't pretend to claim perfection in the nation's highest court, it's easily the best group suited to determine this outcome. The Supreme Court is the body most likely to act with the best interest of the nation and the Constitution in mind, free of partisan restraints; each and every justice has devoted his or her life to the study of law and the sanctity of the American Constitution. I can think of no other group better suited to settle this conflict. So devoted are they to the proper resolution of this affair that they may very well disqualify themselves from making the determining judgement, should they deem that the Consitiution demands it.

    It is unjust and wrong to win a national election on a margin of error; the result in Florida is not even contestably within the flawed Floridian voting system's "margin of error". Get past the details of which candidate is crying foul over which county's ballot invalidation; because of the failings of Florida's system, the two candidates have effectively tied in the state, and neither one can rightly claim victory. This is indeed a matter for the courts, and it is a matter which requires our utmost patience, diligence and attention.

    Ending this proceeding for the sake of "getting it over with" is decidedly not in the best interest of our nation; the bitter partisan divisiveness it would engender would ultimately be far more destructive than having this play out in the courts. This is why we have courts. This is why Supreme Court justices are appointed for life. This matter is best settled by the branch of our government created to settle conflicts with the letter of the law. To think that either political party is even remotely capable of a fair, unbiased resolution on their own is purest naïveté.

    $ man reality

  • The electoral college forces candidates to pay more attention to more diverse regions and demographic groups. IMO, the electoral college is a good idea, but could be done better, (i.e. not only allot votes to states, but also to other demographic groups not necessarily region-based).

    I agree that the electoral college is a nice balance between each state getting equal vote independent of population, and a purely popular vote, which can lead to the majority overriding the minorities.

    But I think it could be done better if the states weren't voted for in a winner-takes-all mentality. There are two states that currently allow their votes to be split along the state's vote makup, sorry, I forget which two. This would be the way to go, IMHO. It would make the whole Florida issue mute (well, unless the elector cases were so close that each 1-elector-vote of all the states mattered). Maybe to help allieve this possibility, if the state's popular vote is within the margin of error, then abstain one of the votes, or something like that.

    This method would also be good for third-party candidates, as they would now actually have a non-zero shot of getting an actual electoral vote.

  • THis is not legal advice, although I am an attorney. If you need legal advice, contact an attorney licensed in your own jurisdiction.

    No, that's not what the Constitution requires. Here is what and
    when is required:

    1) Polls must close on the same day for representatives (and now
    senators). Congress may set this date by law, or take the
    Tuesday following the first Monday of November (which it has
    set by law).

    2) The Constitution requires that in some form or another, the state
    legislature choose electors. All 50 states have chosen to have
    elections.

    3) A federal law requires that elections for these electors be held
    on the same date as in 1). It does *not* require they be elected,
    nore could it (this would violate the directive that the legislature
    choose a method).

    4) All electors must vote on the same date, which is December 18 this year.

    Those are required. Addtionally, law provides that *if* electors.
    have been chosen at least 6 days prior to the date in 4)

    Whether or not a legislature having chosen elections on the date of
    1 can change their mind after that date is not clear, but would seem
    to lose the safe harbor of the statute. Also, given that the electors
    *have* been chosen, it is not clear that the legislature can change its
    mind at all (it's a close call).

    hawk, esq.
  • In your eagerness to find the figures an attack on Gore, you miss my point. I'm not accusing the Dems of fraud. I state it could be a possibility, not a certainty.

    Okay, numbers, then (some uncertainty to these numbers, of course, but numbers were pulled from CNN.com, msnbc.com, and census data):

    Total votes: 5,816,627
    Votes for Gore: 2,907,451

    % of FL population who are white: 83%
    % of FL population who are black: 15%
    % of FL population who are hispanic: 14%

    % of white Floridians who voted for Gore: 40%
    % of white Floridians who voted for Bush: 57%

    % of black Floridians who voted for Gore: 93%
    % of black Floridians who voted for Bush: 7%

    % of hispanic Floridians who voted for Gore: 48%
    % of hispanic Floridians who voted for Bush: 49%

    With the black vote counting for 16% of the Gore votes (as reported) and take these numbers into account. It's not an indictment, and I don't intend to make it such. It's just very, very interesting.

  • If Florida choose it's electors in proportion to the popular vote, this would be a non-issue. If the president was elected via popular vote, this would be a non-issue.

    This is specious reasoning...there is NO ELECTION SYSTEM that can deal with close contests near the boundaries. If you changed the rules to choosing electors in proportion to the popular vote, then rather than fighting over a few thousand votes in ONE state, you'd be fighting over a few thousand votes in ALMOST ALL states...since now, you'd be talking about somewhere around 30 disputed votes rather than 25, but in literally hundreds of jurisdictions. Similarly, a popular vote would result in disputes and contests in literally THOUSANDS of jurisdictions, all across the country.

    Note that I'm NOT arguing that the Electoral College system is flawless or should even be the system we use. What I AM saying is that ALL election systems have pathological cases, and you CAN NOT design a system to eliminate all the pathologies...and this particular election is an example where the pathologies would have affected NEARLY ALL election systems. When the popular vote differences are buried in the noise (as they probably are, both in Florida AND nation wide), we HAVE TO rely on something outside the actual count of votes to determine what the votes "mean", and in this case, that is the proper application of previously passed laws, and the interpretation of courts of law as to the proper application of those laws.

    Further, polarization into two party systems tend to be the norm in "democratic" societies. You need only look at the US, Canada, UK, etc. Yes, there are third parties in those places, but they are largely ineffective. And nations with large numbers of parties tend to have a different, and no less difficult, set of pathologies (see Italy, Israel, Austria, etc.)

    I guess my point is that EVERY system has pathologies, and they tend to be drawn out when the system encounters boundary conditions...and no nation or electoral system is immune.

  • Gore still has the decision for the Contest this Afternoon.(?)

    And there is also the lawsuit in Seminole county where it is alledged that Republicans were allowed to correct the paperwork on 5000 absentee ballots, thus letting them count, while conveniently tossing out 2000 Democratic absentee ballots in similar condition.

    if Gore wins that one, the Republicans will be royally pissed off.

    remember, if GWB becomes prez, he will be the third president named George.

    Long live King Georg the III !!! [snort]

  • Every time I flip through the american networks (most of our television is crap)...

    You flip through American shows because your stuff is crap? Wow. Out-crapping American television certainly is a feat...
  • by Zak3056 (69287) on Monday December 04, 2000 @08:29AM (#583387) Journal
    Well, the United States Supreme Court has issued their unanimous ruling. They've ruled against the Florida Supreme Court, meaning that Bush is the winner. What's interesting here is that inadverently, GWB's case has transferred a significant amount of power from the States to the Federal Government.

    I know it's en vogue on slashdot not to actually READ the linked story before commenting, but I'd have hoped the slashdot staff was above that. Apparently not. All this opinion says is, in essence, "We don't know why you did what you did. Please explain." This is HARDLY a "transfer of power" from the states to the Federal government.

  • ... all you programmers (Java-style).

    The Citizen->PresidentialCandidate->GeorgeWBush class passed as input the return value from the State->Justice->SupremeCourt->Florida object to the Federal->Justice->SupremeCourt object. The Federal->Justice->SupremeCourt has thrown an InsufficientLawPrecedentException. The detail fields of that Exception has been repassed to the State->Justice->SupremeCourt->Florida object, along with the original parameters. We are waiting for the return value.


    --

  • by WombatControl (74685) on Monday December 04, 2000 @08:30AM (#583393)

    Well, comsidering that federal supremacy has been the norm since McCollough v. Maryland in the early 1800s, I wouldn't be real surprised by this ruling. The Florida Supreme Court severely overstepped its bounds by adding time to the election procedings, which is a violation of the Article II of the US Constitution which gives control over election procedings to the state legislatures. The state judiciary has no right to dictate the terms of a state election, especially when not asked to do so.

    This is a very easy ruling for the SCOTUS, as there was a clear violation of the Constitution by the Florida Supreme Court. Not only that, but the case Roe v. Alabama sets a federal precedent against changing election procedures while an election is still being counted. Clearly the SC was acting within the confines of federal and Constitutional law, and was not eroding state's rights in any way. States rights do not include the ability to violate federal law.

    BTW, IANAL, but I am a political scientist.

  • by scotay (195240) on Monday December 04, 2000 @08:40AM (#583434)
    "What's interesting here is that inadverently, GWB's case has transferred a significant amount of power from the States to the Federal Government."

    Democrats are all for the federal government stomping over states rights to impose the federal nanny state. Only when they want their man in the White House, to they find that old time states rights religion.

    Republicans are all for states rights when it comes to gun laws and restricting abortions. When your state decides to decriminalize medical marijuana or physician-assisted suicide, the Republicans come out of the woodwork to impose the power of the federal government on these uppity states.

    Just goes to show that both major parties are inconsistent and hypocritical when it comes to states rights. The one good thing that can come of the mess is a new resurgence in third-party voters. This Libertarian doesn't have much hope, but there can't be a clearer example that the major parties stand for nothing. There is no principle that they will let get in the way of their victory.
  • by Janthkin (32289) on Monday December 04, 2000 @08:41AM (#583439)
    This is interesting, too:
    From the opinion:
    "This is sufficient reason for us to decline at this time to review the federal questions asserted to be present
    (Emphasis added.)

    What's this mean? Well, the US SC wasn't sure exactly where the Fl SC got its ruling from, and so redirected it to /dev/null before requerrying, looking for more substantive output. If such output is forthcoming, they still have reserved the right to deal with this further. :)
  • by The Cunctator (15267) on Monday December 04, 2000 @08:42AM (#583440) Homepage
    Here's the ruling [msnbc.com]. (The decision is in the last few lines.)

    First off, I think you put this in the wrong category--I'm pretty sure this isn't an Internet issue. (Okay, I see you fixed that while I wrote this. Good.)

    Second, the Supreme Court did not overturn the Florida Supreme Court. They remanded the decision. The proper headline is "SCOTUS Sends Case Back to SCOF" (since /. should be using wonkish acronyms, don't you think?)

    Third, as others have pointed out, it wasn't a "unanimous ruling", it was an unsigned ruling.

    Fourth, "meaning that Bush is the winner" is misleading and vague, particularly since it doesn't say what he is the winner of. And he didn't really win anything, except more PR fodder.

    Fifth, you should present some justification for your conclusion about the transference of power; I expect you can't, particularly since the news about this decision is vague and incomplete. Even if SCOTUS had ruled against the Florida Supreme Court, that wouldn't have transferred power away from the states to the federal govt., it would have transferred power away from the people and the courts to the legislative and executive branches.

    However, I want to say that I don't particularly blame CmdrTaco for being so misleading, since the coverage has been confused--as the story first came out on the Net, the one-line reports were changing. General media coverage has been confusing, but they're starting to fix their sites and get the story right--I hope CmdrTaco will correct his post as well.

    Finally, I want to say that I am very thankful that CmdrTaco posted this, because for anyone who cares about the long-term health of the republic and believes in the ideals of democracy this election is of utmost concern.

    So, thank you, but get your facts straight.
  • by Foamy (29271) on Monday December 04, 2000 @09:06AM (#583463)
    I wish I could moderate this post up to 5. There needs to be a new moderation category in addition to 'flamebait', 'interesting', etc. 'editors get a clue'.

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